Current project snapshot: Cost of the School Day (Dundee)

Cost of the School Day Dundee was a key recommendation of the Dundee Fairness Commission in 2016. The Commission stated that ‘good quality education... is currently undermined by the burdensome consequences of the cost of the school day’ and recommended that work took place to reduce stigma and the hidden costs of attending school in Dundee.
Susan Epsworth, Cost of the School Day Project Worker for CPAG in Scotland, explains what’s been happening so far and what’s coming up.Susan Epsworth

“We’re working with fifteen schools in total in Dundee - so far we’ve worked with four primary schools and two nurseries. We’ve been speaking to children, school staff and family members to ask what they think of school costs and particularly how these costs might impact on low income families. That’s been happening in lots of different ways - focus groups in schools with children, staff and parents, surveys in some places, chatting with existing parent and family groups in school and going out and about in the community to meet parents at local community groups, family holiday activities and at specialist organisations like the Dundee Carers Centre.”

“People are pointing out a whole range of costs that could prove difficult. Most children and their families agree that the biggest school costs are around uniform and trips, particularly the P7 residential.”

£2 a day [for lunch] over a year is a lot... if your mum and dad have two or three kids then that's a lot of money, especially if one of them is in high school. (Child, Dundee)
I dread it (school trips), it might just be £5 but you've still got to find the money from somewhere. (Parent, Dundee)

“What’s also clear though is that many schools and the staff working in them are sensitive to the fact that some families may be struggling financially. There is already a lot of fantastic work happening to keep costs low and to support families where needed which we’re looking forward to sharing.”

“Over the next few months we’ll be working in a further seven primaries and two secondary schools. After that we’ll be working with all of the schools taking part to support them in putting together an action plan to eliminate or reduce some of the cost barriers for families. We will also be talking to Dundee City Council about the issues that are city wide and need to be addressed at authority level and working out with them how we can cascade current good practise and all of the new ideas we’ve heard across Dundee as a whole.”

“What we’ve found out so far is so useful and really points to the value of asking these questions and exploring these issues with children and their families – sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. We’re looking forward to the next stages of the project.”

Our puppet, Ross, preparing to meet pupils in a Dundee primary school. Ross and his sister Katie are used as part of a story to help younger children think through the implications of not having enough money at home and what this might mean at school.

For more information about Cost of the School Day (Dundee) please contact Marion Fairweather, Project Manager (Dundee) on MFairweather@cpagscotland.org.uk or Susan Epsworth, Project Worker (Dundee) on SEpsworth@cpagscotland.org.uk.