SCHOOLS which are using extra money to help close the attainment gap on campus police officers have come under fire.

The row blew up after a Scottish Parliament committee heard examples of how schools were spending the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF).

Martin Canavan, policy officer at the Aberlour Child Care Trust, said it was an illustration of “a real inconsistency” surrounding PEF.

He told the education committee: “Where there are good relationships with schools, where headteachers are quite proactive, then PEF is a really good model.

“Where there is a need to support teachers, to support schools, to recognise what’s happening, then PEF doesn’t necessarily present or provide the best model.

“It could result in money being spent on things that maybe don’t work, aren’t evidenced to work, and what is essentially a very valuable resource could be otherwise not used as best it could be.”

Mr Canavan said the example of campus police officers had caused particular concern.

He added: “We’re not entirely convinced as an organisation in terms of the work that we do ... that campus police officers are a particularly good use of PEF funding.

“That’s not to say there isn’t a role for police in schools ... but when it’s uniformed police officers patrolling school campuses we’re not entirely sure that’s an appropriate use of PEF funding.”

However, the decision was defended by John Butcher, executive director of education at North Ayrshire Council, who acknowledged that some schools in the local authority had chosen to spend part of their PEF funding on campus officers.

Headteachers from Glasgow have also chosen to spend the money in this way under a partnership with Police Scotland.

Mr Butcher said the initiative was “breaking down some of the barriers between Police Scotland and local authorities and children and young people”.

He added: “Campus officers don’t patrol schools is the bottom line. They don’t actually wander about the schools in their uniforms.

“They are involved in Duke of Edinburgh’s awards. Campus officers take some of those clubs, they are involved in wider achievements ... they are involved fully in the life of the schools.

“They encourage young people to be part of the school, to get into school in the morning, they work with parents to break down those barriers between police, between schools and to encourage those parents to send their children to school to get that involvement.

“There is a long history of campus officers both in Glasgow and in my own authority and they are not there to police the schools, they are there to be absolutely a key partner in the schools.”

The Scottish Government’s PEF scheme hands funding directly to schools and headteachers to spend on initiatives aimed at closing the poverty-related attainment gap, with £120 million distributed in 2017/18.