New Lottery funding backs action on Cost of the School Day in Scotland | CPAG

New Lottery funding backs action on Cost of the School Day in Scotland

Published on: 
28 January 2020
  • Slice of £2m UK-wide National Lottery grant to Child Poverty Action Group will support new partnership with Moray Council to remove barriers to learning for children from low-income families

Part of a £2 million UK-wide National Lottery grant will support a new partnership between Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland and Moray Council aimed at helping schools remove the financial barriers to learning for children and ease financial pressure on low-income parents.

Building on Cost of the School Day work in Glasgow and CPAG in Scotland’s successful three-year partnership with Dundee City Council, funded through the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the new UK-wide programme made possible thanks to a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund will involve thirty-two Moray schools alongside work with other local authorities in the Northern Alliance.

UK Cost of the School Day, led by Child Poverty Action Group and Children North East, will also roll out in Coventry, South Wales and the London boroughs of Greenwich, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea with 128 schools set to take action over the next three years. Through a structured, pupil-led approach, UK Cost of the School Day project staff will work with children and young people, families, teachers, school staff and local authorities to identify ‘cost barriers’ in each school – and to co-design ‘action plans’ to remove them.

Inclusion levels and changes in pupils’ experiences of school will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention throughout the first two years of the project, with the final year focussing on spreading changes that have a positive impact for pupils, beyond the initial 128 schools.

John Dickie, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland Director said:

“Every child in Scotland should be able to make the most of the school day but we know there are a range of costs which can get in the way of learning and create financial stress for children and families. Our work with schools and local authorities over the last five years in Scotland has shown that there are countless impactful ways to help make sure income doesn’t act as a barrier to education if we commit to listening to children and parents’ experiences and solutions. We know that schools in Moray have already started great work in this area and we can’t wait to extend our work in Scotland so far by working with Moray Council and the Northern Alliance.”

Pupils and staff in schools which have been involved in the earlier Children North East and CPAG in Scotland projects reported a range of cost-barriers to learning, including:

  • Subject costs (e.g. materials for Art, Home Economics, IT, and the cost of theatre trips for Drama)
  • Not having IT at home for homework
  • Lack of money for school trips
  • Lack of money for travel-to-school fares (or travel home from after school activities which end after the free bus has left)
  • Cost of buying past exam papers and other revision materials
  • Cost of hiring and maintaining a musical instrument

A range of bespoke changes were recommended by these projects, to stop financial exclusion at school, including:

  • Choosing more affordable school trips, subsidising trips and/ or allowing parents to pay for trips in instalments
  • Providing sibling discounts for fun events and trips
  • Removing curriculum costs for subjects like home economics and technology
  • Providing a starter pack for entry level pupils of bag, pencil case and stationery and setting up homework clubs with resources such as IT
  • Reviewing school uniform policies, recycling school uniform items, buying plain blazers and ironing on badges
  • Improved promotion of school clothing grants and free school meals
  • Sharing bus hire with nearby schools
  • Setting up breakfast clubs and breakfast boxes for pupils
  • Reducing or removing costs for after school clubs and activities

John Knights, Senior Head of the UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund, said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players this project will support school children to be able to fully and equally take part in all aspects of school life. Importantly the project is putting young people in the lead to create solutions that reduce the stigma that they can feel and enable them to thrive.”

Vivienne Cross, Head of Education at Moray Council said:

"This funding from the National Lottery will make a huge difference to many young people and their access to education. Moray is a predominately rural area and poverty can affect our young people in ways that are not always obvious, but can have a damaging effect on their learning. We are looking forward to working with CPAG in Scotland to focus on removing the barriers to education that poverty can create.”

Notes to Editors:

Children and school staff in Glasgow and Dundee who were interviewed between August 2014 and June 2018 as part of the CPAG in Scotland’s Cost of the School Day project said:

Subject costs:

“I didnae want to pay 50 pence on Home Eccies [Economics]. I didn't want to pay that …….because then that takes money off my lunch money, and I was like, nah.” (Pupil)

“Children have the embarrassment of us saying 'do you have your money? You can't cook today‘” (HE teacher)

“They might get instrument hire for free [if eligible for free school meals] but it’s the upkeep of instruments – oil for a trumpet, that’s a fiver or tenner that isn’t at home,… the cost of music books, one book is £20 and you need another in three months… it’s twenty to thirty pounds for a box of clarinet reeds” (Music teacher).

Travel costs:

“I’m doing sound production so you’ve got to stay back after school and you’ve got to work on your project and all that. So it means I can’t get the school bus home. I’ve got to pay for public transport afterwards.” (Pupil).

Free school meals:

“If your pals are going out at lunch you'll be a loner. It puts you out the group because they're going out and then you're sitting there on your own with a free meal” (pupil)

Uniform and equipment:

“We used to get told we had to bring… old trainers to wear on the pitch. But everyone didn't have trainers.” (pupil)

“You see from day one the ones that it will get worse for, you see it as the term goes on – they all start smart and clean but then some families can replace [clothing] and some can’t” (Teaching staff)

“Some people won’t trial [for the football team] ‘cause they don’t have the equipment so don’t want to make a fool of themselves.” (Pupil).

School trips and events:

“Last day it was just me in my class, that was rubbish, majority of people were away on the trip”, (Pupil)

“If you can’t afford it you’re just sat there in your class on your own and do work while they go – Mr P says if you don’t go you do need to work.” (Pupil)

“There’s nothing to do at the Summer fair if you don’t have money … even throwing a sponge at the teacher costs about £1 – I would just go home.” (Pupil).

Learning at home:

“The teacher wouldn’t accept my homework ‘cause it was handwritten but I don’t have a computer.” (Pupil).

More information on CNE’s and CPAG’s previous work with schools to remove financial barriers to learning here and here


Sara Spencer, Cost of the School Day Project Manager, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland

0141 611 7097 / 07834375321

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