News, events and reports

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."

Key points

  • 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.

Click here to read the briefing paper.

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


NPFS/CPAG Parent Council toolkit

'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

Dundee Evening Telegraph story on Cost of the School day

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 examNHS Health Scotland logoine 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 if you are interested in taking part in the Practice Network.

School costs in the news

Uniform image - BBC Scotland report

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.