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We used the Scottish index of multiple deprivation, which is a long-established set of indicators that shows levels of deprivation in communities across Scotland, to identify the seven authorities with the greatest concentration of primary-age children living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas in Scotland. We have worked with those authorities to agree funding for the primary schools that would benefit most.
On Monday this week, I announced that an additional 57 schools outside those seven local authority areas have been allocated moneys through the attainment fund. They were identified by using the SIMD.
Does the First Minister accept that evidence produced by experts such as Professor Sue Ellis and Dr Jim McCormick confirms that the majority of deprived pupils do not in fact attend schools in the most deprived areas? Does she therefore agree that Scottish Government policy, which targets only selected schools in selected local authorities registering a high deprivation index, has its limitations and that a much better policy would be to target the available funds on individual pupils?
We are looking to target the money as effectively as possible; indeed, after listening to views and evidence, we have extended the programme beyond the seven local authority areas to a further 57 schools across, I think, a further 14 local authorities. As I said earlier in response to a question from Ruth Davidson, we will put forward further substantial proposals, as we get nearer to the Scottish election, on how we will extend the approach that we are taking.
I could not be more clear and serious about the commitment that I am making on educational attainment. If I am re-elected as First Minister—I take nothing for granted—I will be judged on that, among other things, over the life of the next session of Parliament. It is in my interests and, more important, in the interests of young people across our country that we do what needs to be done to deliver on that commitment. I am determined that we do exactly that.
I apologise to the many back benchers whose supplementary questions I have been unable to take today. Some of those supplementary questions were very important from a constituency point of view, but leaders’ questions and answers are taking 20 minutes, which is clearly unacceptable. I appeal yet again to the party leaders to cut down on the amount of time that they are taking for questions and answers.