News, events and reports
Claim ‘school isn’t free’ as pupils miss out on subjects due to costs
120,000 families to benefit from new £100 national minimum school clothing grant (May 2018)
CPAG in Scotland is delighted to welcome the new £100 national minimum school clothing grant in Scotland. We have been campaigning with One Parent Families Scotland, the Poverty Truth Commission and others over many years for a minimum level of grant.
Currently school clothing grants vary – from £50 to £110 – depending on where families live. Now, all eligible families, regardless of their local authority area, will have access to the same minimum level of financial support for school clothing.
The scheme opens in time for the 2018/19 academic year with eligibility determined at a local level. The grant will be reviewed every two years to ensure that the amount available remains in line with cost of living.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, welcomed the news.
“This is great news for the thousands of families who struggle to meet the costs of school clothing on top of all the other essentials they need to budget for. £100 is now the absolute minimum grant that must be offered to families struggling on low incomes. Grants are already higher in some areas, and the actual cost of kitting out a child for school was recently calculated as £129.50. But this new £100 minimum provides a very welcome basic level of consistent support for parents, wherever they live in Scotland.”
"Claim ‘school isn’t free’ as pupils miss out on subjects due to costs" - The Scotsman, 19 April 2018
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, giving evidence at the Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee's inquiry into poverty and attainment, highlighted Cost of the School Day evidence of the impact of having to pay for curriculum costs in subjects such as home economics, art and design, technical studies, English and drama and music.
“The reality is that too often education isn’t free; what’s offered in school isn’t free, pupils and families are being charged for it...There is real evidence of young people actually making subject choices influenced by cost...There’s two things: pupils are actually missing out on those subjects, not being able to participate, or their ability to enjoy those subjects, knowing that is causing a stress for them and their families to participate, is diminished.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokeswoman made clear that charging pupils should not be happening in Scottish schools.
“All children should expect to be able to access all subjects. It is not acceptable for schools to ask pupils to pay for a core part of their curriculum... Councils have a legal responsibility for providing an adequate and efficient education, suitable to the needs of every child. Within this settlement, sufficient resource should be made available to schools for supplies and equipment, with specific levels of funding for schools determined by individual councils.”
CPAG in Scotland Cost of the School Day submission to the Scottish Parliament's inquiry into poverty and attainment
The Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee is holding an inquiry on the impact of experiencing poverty on young people at school, including their attainment and their achievement.
In our response to the Committee’s call for written evidence on poverty and attainment we highlighted the importance of tackling the key drivers of poverty, as well as setting out the impact that action to reduce or remove cost barriers across the school day can make to children and their families.
"Child poverty rates in Scotland look set to rise further in coming years without substantial policy changes at UK and Scotland level. It is vital that the Scottish Parliament prioritises action to end that poverty. In the meantime, children from low income households can’t achieve at school if barriers created by poverty are not addressed. Cost of the School Day interventions puts money in family pockets and helps schools to remove financial barriers, clearing the way for children to fully participate, learn and achieve."
John Dickie, Director of CPAG, will be drawing on the Cost of the School Day project in his forthcoming appearance before the Scottish Parliament Education Committee (18th April).
Can we put the 'poverty of aspiration' myth to bed now? New research briefing from the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships
This briefing paper by Morag Treanor of CRFR uses responses from parents and children in the birth cohort study Growing Up in Scotland to dispel the myth of the ‘poverty of aspiration’ widely used in education and policy circles in Scotland and beyond.
"The problem with the ‘poverty of aspiration’ as a concept is not only that the research evidence does not support it, but also that it passes the responsibility for a presumed lack of aspirations onto parents and children. In so doing it shifts responsibility away from local and central government, and schools to children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Attempting to close the attainment gap by raising aspirations is unlikely to succeed because it is based on false assumptions about low aspirations."
- The poverty of aspiration is a myth that transfers responsibility for aspirations and achievement from governments and schools to parents and children
- School is important to, and for, children living in poverty
- All parents want the best for their child(ren) but lower income parents are less likely to know what is possible or how to achieve it
- Lower income parents are less likely to know how to support their child’s education.
New national Cost of the School Day Parent Council Toolkit
Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland (CPAG) and National Parent Forum for Scotland (NPFS) are delighted to launch a national Cost of the School Day toolkit resource for Parent Councils across Scotland. This toolkit was initially developed with the Glasgow Parent Council Forum, supported by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. NPFS has worked with parents in South Lanarkshire, Shetland and the Western Isles to add a national perspective to this work.
Insufficient household income can mean that some children and young people don’t have the resources needed for school and can’t easily afford to take part in school activities which cost money. Parent Councils have a key role to play in highlighting to schools how costs affect families and in working with the school to ensure that costs do not act as a barrier to children’s learning or participation.
This toolkit is designed to help Parent Councils:
- review and audit current practices in their schools
- consider the impact of costs on low income families in their schools
- learn about simple actions taken by Parent Councils across Scotland which have reduced school costs and helped children and young people from low income households to participate fully at school
'Dundee council sets up project to tackle hidden costs of going to school'
Click here to read the Dundee Evening Telegraph report on Cost of the School Day Dundee - 30 September, 2017
Join NHS Health Scotland’s Facing Up to Child Poverty in Schools Practice Network
Are you working to address the cost barriers of school for children and their families in your local authority area? NHS Health Scotland is establishing a Practice Network to provide opportunities for peer support, the exchange of good practice and national support around these issues.
In November 2016, NHS Health Scotland held an event Facing up to child poverty in schools – what can be done to reduce the cost barriers of school? to examine the impact of child poverty in schools and identify steps to reduce the cost barriers and the effect of child poverty in schools. Stakeholders were invited from each Local Authority and Health Board in Scotland who could take the lead in considering and developing an approach to addressing cost barriers of school in their area. One of the next steps arising from the event was the establishment of a Practice Network.
The aim of the Practice Network is to provide a forum for local authority and partner representatives with a remit to progress action on addressing cost barriers of school in their local authority area and will share examples of actions taken locally to reduce these barriers for parents/carers and their children. Specifically, the forum will provide an opportunity for peer support, the exchange of good practice and national support.
There will be 2 face-to-face meetings in October 2017 and March 2018 and a virtual network in between.
Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in taking part in the Practice Network.
School costs in the news
BBC Scotland - School uniform grants still unequal - 11 August 2017 - Report on the continued disparity by local authority in the amount of school clothing grant which families can claim, the real cost of kitting a child out for school and the growing demand for school uniform banks.
The Sunday Herald - The true cost of going back to school - 13 August 2017 - As schools return for the new year, the Sunday Herald investigates the true cost of going back to school for families
Useful reports and articles
Child poverty in Scotland – what we know and what the public thinks An accessible booklet from the Scottish Government and Poverty Alliance, setting out what we know about child poverty in Scotland – what it is, how common it is, what life’s like for families in poverty, why children are in poverty and mismatches between what the public think living in poverty is like and its reality.
Face up to child poverty – EIS survey, session 2016/17 Report of the most recent survey of EIS members showing, from teacher’s perspectives, how increasing levels of poverty are affecting children’s school experiences. Comments from teachers about action they have taken in response are included in this appendix.
Money Matters: Does Money Affect Children's Outcomes? A Systematic Review An updated review from the London School of Economics of causal evidence on whether or not money itself matters for children’s development. The update provides further strong evidence of the link between money and children’s cognitive development, physical health and social and behavioural development.
Poverty and child health: views from the frontline Report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Child Poverty Action Group, based on a survey of more than 250 paediatricians, on the effect which food insecurity, poor housing and worry, stress and stigma is increasingly having on children’s health.
Holiday hunger is a human rights issue – Scotland’s children have the right to food This piece from the office of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People argues that holiday hunger and child poverty must be recognised as a significant children’s rights issue in Scotland.