Parents, carers and Parent Councils
Involving parents, carers and Parent Councils in Cost of the School Day means identifying and tackling the right issues together.
Parent Councils have a duty to act as the voice for all parents in their schools. They also help to advise schools on their policies and plans. This means that they are ideal partners in Cost of the School Day. Parent Councils can play a key role in highlighting where costs are affecting parents and can work with their schools to make changes which will minimise the impact of costs.
What cost issues have parents highlighted?
Cost of the School Day research with parents and carers, led by Glasgow City HSCP, highlights the difficulties families face and the need for parents to be involved when decisions with cost implications are made.
- Costs for uniform, trips, resources and events place pressure on tight family budgets and cause anxiety - "The blazer costs £95, the skirt costs £45 and you can not buy that blazer in any other shop, it's only one shop ... and I have two daughters, it's very expensive for me."
- Short notice requests hit low-income families hard as they can't plan and budget for these costs - this can mean that children are unable to join in - "We remind (the school) to send a text out and then the text you get is at half two- for the next day . . It's always at the last minute."
- Parents can get into debt to protect their children from the stigma of being seen as poor - "You want them the same as everybody else, you don't want them different."
Cost of the School Day Parent Council Toolkit
An online survey of Parent Councils found that over a third of respondents were not confident or only slightly confident about speaking to parents about costs. Parent Councils felt that they could better address the Cost of the School Day if they had some support to talk to other parents about cost, examples of good practice from other Parent Councils and information to give to parents about the financial support that was available to them.
In response, Glasgow Parent Councils' Forum, supported by Glasgow City HSCP, worked with us to develop a Cost of the School Day Parent Council toolkit for Glasgow, which can be accessed here. The toolkit is designed to help Parent Councils:
- Identify where costs are affecting low income families in their school
- Consider simple actions that Parent Councils have taken to help poverty-proof their schools
National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) then carried out further discussions with parents in South Lanarkshire, Shetland and the Western Isles to add rural and island perspectives and practice to the toolkit. Click on the picture below to be taken to the national toolkit.
Last year, Parent Councils across Glasgow took part in Cost of the School Day workshops run in partnership with Glasgow Parent Councils’ Forum. This guidance gathers together ideas and practical actions which Parent Council members suggested to help mitigate school costs and ensure that all children can participate fully at school.
We would love to know how you plan to use these resources. Get in touch with comments and to be kept up to date with other national resources coming soon.
Need more support? Sign up for Cost of the School Day workshops for Parent Councils
We offer interactive workshops for Parent Councils and parents' groups, enabling them:
- to understand the impact that school costs can have on children from low-income families
- to improve how they consult with the Parent Forum on issues of cost, and
- to take action to minimise the pressure that school costs place on families.
"Very worthwhile, have lots of ideas for speaking with my parents asap!!!" (Parent workshop participant)
For more information about resources or workshops, please get in touch email@example.com.