15 Dec 2015

Fair Start Fund

The gap between the better off and the less well off remains a stubborn stain on Scotland’s character. Children born into poorer families are more likely to suffer from ill health and die sooner. In education, children from poorer families are less likely to go to university or fill the top jobs in the country. We see it in the exam results right across Scotland. And it’s not down to the teachers or the intellect of the pupils. There are a whole series of issues which kick in at an early age which often prevent children from poorer families reaching their potential. After years of dithering, the SNP finally set up a limited fund to address the attainment gap, but unfortunately made a mess of it. In Johnstone we have Cochrane Castle Primary and St David’s Primary sitting in the same campus and serving the same areas. St David’s is given a small amount of extra money, but Cochrane Castle doesn’t get a single penny. It’s absurd. Scottish Labour wants to tackle the attainment gap head on. That’s why we have proposed a 50p top rate of tax on the highest earners in the country to give head teachers an extra £1,000 for every pupil who already qualifies for free school meals because of low income. We know that the way to tackle inequality is to start early in life. Scottish Labour wants every child in Scotland to reach her/his full potential, irrespective of where they live. I believe the Fair Start Fund is the right thing to do if we truly believe in fairness and equality.