Cost of the School Day activity across Scotland
With increasing numbers of families across Scotland struggling financially, more and more local authorities are investing in action to reduce financial barriers to participation at school. In this section, we highlight Cost of the School Day activity in a range of local authorities.
Get in touch if you would like to highlight work happening in your local authority or discuss starting up a project in your area.
"Addressing the cost of the school day in Stirling is part of wider work to address child poverty and reduce the poverty related attainment gap. The Cost of the School Day Working Group was established in November 2016 and was chaired by a primary school headteacher. The Group had membership from nurseries, primary and secondary schools and other council services and was able to draw on work from other areas in Scotland such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Renfrewshire.
The purpose of the group was to provide support to schools to enable them to develop an approach to poverty proofing schools in Stirling. This included:
- Assessing the impact of education policies and school practices on the participation and school experience of children and young people from low income households
- Testing the use of a Stirling Council child poverty fund to support families with the costs of the school day (provided during 2016/17 session)
- Identifying and make links to other initiatives that aim to reduce the impact of poverty for families with children;
- Increasing local awareness of good practice to minimise the impact of school costs on families on a low income
- Making recommendations for a longer term approach for poverty proofing schools in Stirling."
"The Group gathered evidence, assessed data available to schools, and conducted consultation with children, young people and parents. Awareness of the approach was raised via learning community and headteachers’ meetings. Schools have been encouraged to build in the Cost of the School Day approach to staff development sessions, policies and plans.
Work done by the Group and by schools with the Cost of the School Day fund and to adopt the approach last session, has ensured that this aspect of tackling poverty and inequality now has a much higher profile in schools and has become a priority within the service. Resources produced by the Group were distributed to schools in May."
"Midlothian Council has applied the learning from the Child Poverty Action Group research into the cost of the school day to carry out its own research in partnership with NUS Dissertations for Good.
The next step is to work alongside parent councils to test practical interventions in primary schools with the highest concentration of children living in low income households.
The council is also working with primary school head teachers on how the research can influence the allocation of Pupil Equity Funding."
Click here to find out all about Cost of the School Day in Dundee.
Dumfries and Galloway
"As part of our Antipoverty Strategy we have trained all staff in our 115 schools as part of our priority to close the poverty related attainment gap for our children. We undertook local research to give a rural perspective on the Cost of the School Day and young people told us their ‘Big Deal’ and ‘No Big Deal’ issues.
Our Poverty Awareness training for all education staff in Dumfries and Galloway aimed to give our staff in schools a better understanding of what people believe about poverty, a better understanding of poverty in our region and a whole authority approach to identified actions that we can take to tackle attitudes and help pupils and families experiencing poverty, including the four ‘big deal’ costs for young people – the costs of learning, travel, food and uniform. This has had a positive impact in that staff across our schools are much more aware of their communities and the needs of the young people and families.
This year we should see greater awareness and fewer assumptions from our staff in our schools – also some practical steps to reduce the costs of the Big 4."
"Across Glasgow, the Cost of the School Day initiative continues to have a high profile in our schools and nurseries.
Parent Council training materials have been developed and are located on Glasgow On-Line our internal schools website. This allows parent councils to easily access and print these via their school when undertaking training sessions.
Glasgow has also ensured that COSD features during the first in-service day for all staff across the City as a standing item on the day’s in-set training.
Several identified COSD ‘champions’ have been established across the City and there is a designated link Quality Improvement Officer in Centre who will facilitate networking opportunities for this group of staff as well as ensuring that they carry out training and delivery in a consistent manner. This will provide a conduit for good practice in this area of work across the schools and nurseries and thus further effective sharing of good practice."
The Fife Partnership has invested in a local programme to reduce financial barriers at school for children from low income households.
It surveyed schools and heard from over 200 parents and over 100 pupils about additional school costs and their impact. The subsequent report contains suggestions for schools to alleviate costs and recommends, amongst other things, a ‘whole-school’ approach to minimising the impact of school costs and tackling the stigma around poverty.
There will be ongoing support for the project this session with training for school staff, guidance to schools around costs and continued efforts to raise awareness of the impact of child poverty, reduce stigma and examine the costs of the school day.
The 1 in 5 project is continuing to provide training for school leads taking forward this work in their schools and has been holding regular meetings for schools to share their practice and learning around these issues. The project is currently being independently evaluated and the report is due to launch soon.
In the new school year, working in partnership with NHS Lothian and the Community Help and Advice Initiative, they are piloting a new approach to delivering welfare advice. A Welfare Rights Worker is being co-located in a 2 Primary schools, a high school and 2 special schools to provide financial support and advice to parents.
In Aberdeen, schools and parents have been surveyed on their views of costs and their impact. A working group has been developing guidance for schools on reducing the cost of school trips and school uniform sales, on signposting families to financial advice and on removing or reducing costs for specialist equipment in Technology and home economics, especially for families who receive free meals.