Out-of-hours attack on deprivation

12th December 1997 at 00:00
Learning in out-of-school-hours boosts self-confidence, motivation and + achievement, Donald Dewar, the Scottish Secretary, told a meeting in + Easterhouse at the launch of the Scottish attack on social exclusion.A mile + away in Cranhill, one of Glasgow's most disadvantaged communities, Anne + Morrison, head of Lamlash primary, agreed. "I could not have put it better," + she said.Thirty of her most talented pupils are staying behind after school for+ extra lessons in a pilot scheme that mirrors the ambitions of the Government's+ #163;23 million out-of-school learning programme. It will be funded through + the New Opportunities Fund,the latest good cause to emerge from the national + lottery.Mr Dewar pledged to establish clubs in half of Scottish secondaries and+ 25 per cent of primaries within four years to boost educational opportunities + and break the cycle of disadvantage. "If children feel that school is leaving + them behind, or that they are not part of what is happening, it is a recipe for+ long-term isolation from the mainstream," he said.The depth of poverty in + Easterhouse was underlined by the figures on free school meals. Just under 70 + per cent of primary children were entitled to free dinners, against the + Scottish average of 23 per cent, he said.But Lamlash is proving that pupils can+ be recruited to the educational agenda, even in the most difficult + circumstances and on the shoestring budget of the current pilot.Six weeks into + the project, 30 eight to eleven year olds are still returning after hours, + once or twice a week, for tuition in science, French, art, country dancing and + athletics. Six teachers have volunteered to work the extra hour, while a city + sports coach helps with athletics in the gym. Parents must collect their + children at the end of session at 4pm.Ms Morrison said the idea came from the + teachers following an HMI report which was critical of the lack of challenge + for the more able pupils. "Children were identified by the teachers for their + interests or potential skills and their enthusiasm is enormous. It's a fun time+ and one of the main issues was that it should be fun for the children and + teachers," she said. "The atmosphere is completely different and children are + actively involved in very challenging learning, set at their own level. The + children have chosen to go and the teachers have chosen to do this." Staff were+ concerned other pupils and parents may complain about being left out, but + anxieties have, so far, proved unfounded. The scheme could be expanded if + money was available, Ms Morrison said. "There are a lot of talented children + in this school. Unfortunately, voluntary efforts are stretched to the full. + The art club is no more than a drawing club since teachers are reluctant to + touch the school's supply of paints. New pencils were bought through the school+ fund. "If money was on offer, we could build up a bank of resources for + science,art materials or athletic equipment."She believes that there is a + strong demand for out-of-hours provision in Cranhill and would welcome any + chance of tapping into new money.Madge O'Neill, vice-convener of Glasgow + education committee, is backing the initiative. She said: "Twenty years ago, my+ husband died leaving me with five children. I was a nursery nurse and did not + want to give up my job. I didn't finish until 5.15 and Compass Care picked up + my kids from school and looked after them until I got there at 6pm. It was + marvellous."If I did not have after-school care and nursery provision, I would+ have had to give up my job. But this is also about provision for two parents + on low income. Contrary to popular opinion, most people want to work"Glasgow is+ now combining its out-of-school care and network of homework clubs or + supported study initiatives, in an attempt to target the new money. Mrs O'Neill+ said the city needed a large slice of the cash. * A Scottish Office + consultation paper on out-of-school hours learning will be published within the+ next few weeks, followed by a summit in the spring.Projects will have to + contain an educational element to attract funding from lottery distributors and+ will form part of the wider attack on social exclusion, headed in Scotland by + Lord Sewel, the environment minister.He is to be the "Ministerial Champion" and+ will co-ordinate action across Scottish Office departments. The minister will + also liaise with the Prime Minister's social exclusion unit.

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