We've Got Cash That's There to Help Poor Kids. Instead It's Being Used for Lessons in Happiness. It's like Selling Them Snake Oil; Experts Hit out at Charity's School Concept FUND INTENDED TO BOOST CHILDREN'S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE BEING SPENT ON HOLISTIC CLASSES

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), August 6, 2017 | Go to article overview

We've Got Cash That's There to Help Poor Kids. Instead It's Being Used for Lessons in Happiness. It's like Selling Them Snake Oil; Experts Hit out at Charity's School Concept FUND INTENDED TO BOOST CHILDREN'S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE BEING SPENT ON HOLISTIC CLASSES


Byline: | Lauren Crooks

Money earmarked to improve the academic performance of disadvantaged kids is being spent on holistic remedies to improve the "mind, body and soul" of pupils.

At least one headteacher has dipped into their Scottish Government-funded Pupil Equity Fund to pay for programmes run by charity Wholistic Life.

St Mary's Primary School in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, announced in their June newsletter that they used the fund to hire the organisation to run a programme for staff and P6 pupils.

Since the charity were registered in January, Larkhall Academy and Calderside Academy in Blantyre have used their services. Lanark-based primary school St Mary's has also hired them.

It's not known whether these schools used PEF cash to pay for the service.

Wholistic Life say they teach pupils how to "increase self-esteem and confidence".

The charity are operated by Police Scotland Inspector Aimee Canavan and finance worker Susan Livingstone.

But experts have raised concerns about the concept. Professor Kathryn Ecclestone, author of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education, said: "The idea that you can teach happiness is a really spurious claim.

"The difficulty with these types of workshop is that we could actually introduce the idea of stress and anxiety where none exists.

"While these classes aim to solve a problem, they might actually be what's creating it in the first place. Some of the activities going on in schools are very dubious, some of the credibility of the practitioners is questionable too.

"It can be a bit snake oil." According to pricing on the charity's website, Wholistic Life charge PS1300 per 15 pupils and PS800 for training staff.

PEF was introduced earlier this year and saw more than 2300 schools receive additional support to help close the poverty-related attainment gap. The Scottish Government have already promised PS120million 2017-2018. Schools in south Lanarkshire will receive almost PS8million.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "This fund is specifically aimed at closing the attainment gap to ensure those pupils from poorer backgrounds get a better education and achieve improved results.

"Parents will understandably be concerned this particular initiative may not make a material difference to the quality of their child's academic education." Labour's education spokesman Iain Gray added: "Scottish Labour proposed fair start funding targeted at closing the attainment gap, so we support the pupil equity fund, which is very much the same idea. …

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We've Got Cash That's There to Help Poor Kids. Instead It's Being Used for Lessons in Happiness. It's like Selling Them Snake Oil; Experts Hit out at Charity's School Concept FUND INTENDED TO BOOST CHILDREN'S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE BEING SPENT ON HOLISTIC CLASSES
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