Cost of the School Holidays research published

23 December 2015

“It’s worse at October week and Christmas when it’s cold and I have to put more money in my gas to heat my house. When the kids are in school I don’t use my heating and I save it for them coming home to a warm house and getting up with heat in the mornings.” (Mother)

“You are waking up each day and feel like you want to go back to sleep again. You think ‘oh God what are they going to eat today, what did they have yesterday?’ and then they will say they don’t want the same things again.” (Lone mother of five children)

While many children eagerly anticipate the school holidays, families on low incomes face additional financial pressures over the holiday period and can find it challenging to occupy children on a tight budget and source appropriate childcare when working. The Cost of the School Holidays study was designed to inform a Glasgow Life feasibility study exploring ways in which holiday provision could better meet the needs of families living in poverty and ensure uptake by children and young people from low income households.

Cost of the School Holidays worked with parents and children living in Glasgow to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the school holidays like for low-income families in Glasgow?
  2. To what extent does existing holiday provision meet the needs of low-income families?
  3. How can holiday service providers best meet the needs of low-income families?

The report highlights the value of existing holiday provision in Glasgow but makes a series of recommendations from parents, including:

  • using dormant school facilities to provide holiday activities
  • providing free, healthy lunches within existing holiday activities
  • addressing barriers to participation caused by block-booking, advance payment and face-to-face booking requirements
  • reducing transport costs through provision of holiday travel passes
  • ensuring holiday activities fit with working hours

 Commenting on the findings John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said:

“The pressures low income families face are magnified during school holidays. It’s harder for parents to juggle work and childcare and it’s harder to feed, clothe and keep children warm, never mind give them the kind of holiday experience better off families take for granted.

We are delighted that Glasgow life and its partners are looking at how to improve existing highly valued holiday and childcare provision in the city, but this report must now be essential reading for every level of government and for all those providing services to families”.

This research was commissioned by Glasgow Life, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health to inform a working group tasked with improving holiday provision for Glasgow families. It is supported by the Child Poverty sub-group of the Glasgow Poverty Leadership Panel.