EDUCATION bosses are to look into how they will pay for specialist projects once Scottish Government money runs out.

West Dunbartonshire schools have benefitted from millions in funds from the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) since 2015.

But money is expected to run out in March 2020 and the council’s education department is looking for an “exit strategy”.

Between 2015/16 and 2018/19, primary school projects have had £4.458million in funding, while high school ideas got £2.053m.

The council got £2.044m for the 2019/20 school year for projects to close the poverty-related attainment gap in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing, families and communities, and learning and teaching.

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Julie McGrogan, senior education officer, told last week’s education services committee that there was “tangible evidence” of progress.

Projects have included training for early learning and P1 teachers, along with more primary school staff, on “learning through play”.

Funding also covered Easter sports camps for pupils from St Joseph’s and Edinbarnet primaries, and those of Kilbowie, St Eunan’s and Linnvale. There was also a dance workshop for youngsters from Our Holy Redeemer and Whitecrook primaries.

Some schools are being invited to try engineering challenges promoting STEM skills in the context of plastic pollution in the Clyde.

At secondary schools, there has been a “skills academy” at Vale of Leven Academy, mental health first aid training at Dumbarton Academy, 2,501 hours of volunteering by Clydebank High pupils with Police Scotland Youth Volunteer Programme and more.

Council papers state analysis of the various projects will continue until October to determine future funding needs as the government project ends.

Laura Mason, chief education officer, told the meeting many of the projects have become “mainstream” since they started but they will need to see how much extra budgets will require to keep the work going.

A separate funding stream that is part of SAC is pupil equity funding (PEF), based on the number of youngsters getting free school meals.

In a separate report to last week’s education committee, councillors were told the largest amount of spending went to health and wellbeing at 35 per cent. Another 15 per cent went on literacy projects while numeracy and maths got 10 per cent.

Clydebank High has used some of the money “developing teacher confidence” of the Curriculum for Excellence, while St Peter the Apostle High has helped reduce exclusions.

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Total PEF cash for 2019/20 is £3,353,520, a drop of more than £70,000 from last year.

Clydebank High used its 2017/18 money to buy a Peugeot 207 for almost £12,000 to offer support to those accessing a family hub project. It was said to enable access to services including counselling and mentoring, as well as other advice.

Council officials admit no single intervention can raise attainment.

Claire Cusick, senior education officer, told last week’s meeting: “People have been really creative and look at how they can support pupils and families in as many ways as possible.

“It’s not as clear cut that you can develop into 12 interventions.

“Many of our projects in many of our schools have a focus on health and wellbeing, and that’s much more difficult in how it’s measured.”

A third pot of money within SAC is the care experienced children fund, which totalled £243,200 in 2018/19. Projects have included speech, language and communication skills, family group therapy and comedy and confidence for those aged 15-18.

The reports on the SAC, PEF and care experienced funds were approved by councillors.