Headteachers at schools in East Renfrewshire spent more than £1.4million last year in a bid to close the poverty-related attainment gap.

Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) is paid directly to headteachers by the Scottish Government to help boost learning among disadvantaged pupils.

New figures from the government show that East Renfrewshire heads had a total allocation of £1.8m from the PEF pot for 2018/19 but only 76 per cent of that was spent.

The total was made up of a new allocation of £1.4m, plus £388,062 carried over from the previous year.

Any money that was not spent is carried over to next year.

Decisions on how the cash is invested is left to each school, with the proviso that it should be focused on activities and interventions that will lead to improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

In East Renfrewshire, the amounts spent by primary schools ranged from just £7,161 at Calderwood Lodge, in Newton Mearns, to £124,201 at Carlibar Primary, in Barrhead.

Among secondaries, the Isobel Mair School, in Newton Mearns, for children with support needs, spent the most at £106,554.

Next was St Luke’s High, in Barrhead, which spent £69,448.

The secondary school which spent the least was St Ninian’s High, in Giffnock, at £38,779.

The latest figures show that, in the country as a whole last year, headteachers spent more than £132m of PEF funding – 78 per cent of the total available – to close the attainment gap.

Education Secretary John Swinney said every child in East Renfrewshire deserves to grow up knowing there are no limits to what they can achieve.

He added: “Empowered teachers, given the right resources and appropriate support, are making a massive difference in our classrooms and are transforming lives.

“Closing the attainment gap will take time but we also know that what we are doing is having a tangible effect.

“The increase in Pupil Equity Funding investment by headteachers shows that our measures to empower teachers are working.

“Too often, we hear the accusation that Scottish education lacks creativity and innovation. PEF proves that argument entirely wrong.”

However, Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said more of the money should have been spent in the past year.

He added: “This is not a new programme, yet even after two years it is not working as effectively as it should, with over a fifth of funds available not being spent.

“The SNP government’s management of the scheme must be clearer and more transparent.”