Pupils at Burnfoot Community Primary School had a very special visitor as they returned from their summer holiday this week.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid a visit at the start of the new term to showcase her government’s commitment to investing in primary education.
Miss Sturgeon was greeted by the Carnival Queen, Rachel Lowrie and Carnival Cornet Terry Logan (both P7) who led the First Minister to meet pupils in the Primary 1 class.
The First Minister sat in on the class to see the literacy work in action and talk to pupils.
Burnfoot and St Margaret’s RC Primary Schools are among 46 schools set to benefit from the Scottish Attainment Challenge Primary Schools Programme.
The programme forms part of the £750m that the Scottish Government intends to invest in the Attainment Scotland Fund over the course of the current parliament.
The First Minister confirmed that the next allocation of £2.8 million from the Attainment Scotland Fund will be distributed to 46 primaries - across 12 local authorities in which significant numbers of pupils live in deprived areas.
There are now more than 300 schools in total benefiting from the Attainment Fund.
The First Minister said: “As a new school year begins today, pupils and parents here at Burnfoot Community School are looking ahead to an exciting and stimulating year of learning.
“I am determined that every child must have the same opportunities and an equal chance to succeed. That’s why our top priority is raising attainment overall and closing the gap in achievement between young people in our most and least deprived areas.
“At schools in areas of deprivation across the country, teachers are already developing innovative approaches to improving literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing. At Burnfoot, for example, there has been a significant focus on family support, family learning programmes and links with the wider community.
“Thousands of pupils have already benefited from the Attainment Scotland Fund in the last year and a further £2.8 million for primary schools this year will increase the pace of change.
Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for education, Councillor Sandy Aitchison said: “Burnfoot Community School is an excellent example of the work taking place across the Borders to close the attainment gap in our Early Years and Primary schools.
“The school has initiated a range of interventions aimed at closing the gap and since joining the Scottish Attainment Challenge this work has intensified. This has had a tremendous impact on children and families including improved attainment in reading, writing and numeracy, as well as improved attendance.”
Burnfoot headteacher Janice Chapman added: “We were delighted to welcome the First Minister to Burnfoot this morning. We have put practices and changes in place which have seen huge gains in terms of pupil development, as well as having a positive impact on pupils and their families.”