Radical solutions

10th November 2006 at 00:00
Schools in the most deprived areas of East Ayrshire and Edinburgh are to receive almost pound;4 million from retail entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter's charity and the Scottish Executive to halve the number of young people going straight into a cycle of unemployment.

The Hunter Foundation and the Executive are splitting the cost of funding the 2020 Vision programme in the two authorities in an attempt to provide more radical solutions for the 20 per cent of failing young people.

John McCarney, the head of school support in East Ayrshire, said: "This has got to be a bit different, not just more of the same, if we are going to break the cycle."

Cumnock Academy and Doon Academy, with support from their feeder primaries, will become one-stop shops, providing support for children and families 52 weeks a year as part of a pound;2.4m scheme to close the gap between the most and least advantaged children. The East Ayrshire initiative has five main areas of development:

* leadership: much of it building on Columba 1400 work with pupils and teachers, and business and voluntary sector mentoring;

* integration: secondary schools would offer a range of curricular and extra-curricular activities targeting motivation and confidence;

* engagement and participation to reduce exclusions, improve alternative education and vocational provision, and increase childcare places by 10 per cent;

* personalisation, including lifestyle issues such as support for young mothers to breastfeed;

* attainment and achievement, which will include halving Cumnock Academy's Neet (not in education, employment or training) figures from 31 per cent to 15 per cent, and Doon Academy's from 13 per cent to 6 per cent, demanding 5-14 reading and writing targets and better English and maths results for looked-after children.

Also in East Ayrshire, parenting programmes would be offered for 10- to 11-year-olds and 14- to 15-year-olds, and there would be a minimum of five hours of physical activity per week, with two hours built into the curriculum.

Edinburgh's pound;1.5 million project over three years would focus on Craigroyston, Wester Hailes and Castlebrae secondary schools and their neighbourhoods. It would mean the development of enhanced curriculum opportunities for pupils, more leadership activities and the provision of additional depute heads to take forward curricular and other developments across the schools.

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