The local SNP group has pledged to reduce the educational attainment gap further, should they be re-elected to North Ayrshire Council in May.

Saltcoats ward candidate Jean McClung said: “The SNP recognises that our young people are our future, and that we must invest to help them achieve their full potential from an early age. To do this we are expanding early years and childcare provision for all three and four year olds, and all vulnerable two year olds.

“We have increased funding for nursery teachers, and additional projects to help close the attainment gap. For example, the Read, Write, Count campaign is helping to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of our children, by providing advice and support for the families of children in Primaries 1, 2 and 3.

“In addition, the SNP has recognised the valuable input to be gained from our pupils into how we should be delivering services for them, establishing regular cabinet and youth council meetings in each of our secondary schools.”

Chris Paton, one of the party's candidates for the Stevenston ward, added: “During the last council session, the SNP reduced the attainment gap across North Ayrshire by 10 per cent. We still have much work to do, but thanks to the Scottish Government's Pupil Equity Funding scheme, our head teachers will be receiving additional funds annually to help reduce this gap further, selecting the key priorities that they believe they need to invest in to help achieve this goal. For schools in the Stevenston ward alone, this amounts to £619,000 a year.

“As part of the National Attainment Challenge, Scottish Government funding has also recently helped to establish the Professional Learning Academy at Auchenharvie, to further develop the skill-sets of our teachers and practitioners.

"If elected, I look forward to working with our local schools and to help create a better future for all of our children.”