Cost of the School Day | CPAG

Cost of the School Day

breaking down the financial barriers to education

School closure surveys: for parents, carers, children and young people

Due to school closures during the current Covid19 crisis, The UK Cost of the School Day project has had to make some changes, but continues to look for ways to reduce the financial barriers to education faced by children and young people from low income households. We are very aware that the problems that low-income families face during school closures may be even more significant than normal. To find out how the measures introduced by the Government, local authorities and schools have worked to help families we have launched two surveys. Thank you to those who have shared their experience with us through these surveys. You can access some of our early findings below. We will be publishing our full findings in June, and we’re planning a series of webinars to present our findings and recommendations. We will update this page with further information on how to sign up.

Early findings from the surveys

Latest findings from the surveys

Why address the Cost of the School Day?

“Education is free but a lot of school things are not.”

Member of the Children’s Parliament, age 11, Children’s Parliament The Weight on our Shoulders report

Families living on low incomes often struggle with the cost of the school day. Uniforms, trips, school lunches, gym kits, pencils and pens, and dress down days can be difficult or impossible to afford. When children and young people can’t take part in opportunities because of financial barriers, they not only miss out but feel different as a result, and it is harder for them to learn, achieve and be happy at school.

At the same time, we know that poverty has a ferocious and long lasting effect on children’s health and wellbeing, and affects their ability to learn. Children from low-income households are also more likely to report feeling useless and hopeless about their future. There is currently a significant and persistent gap in attainment between children from lower and higher income families, yet we know that if children can do well at school they can have better employment prospects. Education can represent a route out of poverty, but crucially only if children can fully access that education.

“Well I think if all of your friends or people you know go to the after school clubs, school trips, that kind of isolates you from them. You're singled out, you're not with them, just a spare person.

Boy, age 15

How does the Cost of the School Day project work?


The Cost of the School Day helps school communities identify and overcome cost barriers that shape and limit children’s opportunities at school. This project sees children, parents and school staff identify these cost barriers and take action to remove them. Read about some of the successes so far.

children north east logoThis new work builds on our existing Cost of the School Day project in Scotland with the addition of the ‘poverty proofing’ expertise of our partners Children North East.

If we want to tackle poverty, every child from a low-income household must be able to make the most of the school day.

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New Cost of the School Day Films

We've just launched our new films and information for school communities. Find out how schools around Scotland are making Cost of the School Day changes.

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Working in partnership

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Children North East on the expansion of the Cost of the School Day across the UK.

The difference Cost of the School Day makes

Taking a Cost of the School Day approach helps schools to mitigate the effects of child poverty.

Support, Advice and Training in Scotland

How we can support your Cost of the School Day approach.


Helping your school community to address the Cost of the School Day

What’s already happening

Just some of the great Cost of the School Day initiatives in schools.

New evaluation published

New evaluation commissioned by NHS Health Scotland shows the positive impact that Cost of the School Day is having in schools.

A head teacher’s view

A primary school head teacher writes about the impact of this project in his school.
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Local authorities taking the lead

What local authorities around Scotland are doing to address the Cost of the School Day.
Man and child

Parents, carers and Parent Councils

Working together to make a difference to the school day.
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reports and publications

Further reading about the Cost of the School Day.

Latest news

The impact of school closures on children living in poverty in Wales

21 April 2020
Coronavirus has sent a seismic shock through the whole of Welsh society. In the space of a few weeks, workplaces and schools have closed, and nearly all of us have experienced major disruption to our normal lives. It has been a deeply unsettling time for welsh children and young people. Nearly half a million children have suddenly found themselves cut off from their schools, their friends and their extended family. In the midst of this, educators are working round the clock to develop distance-learning strategies so children and young people can continue their education at home.

Together, we can drive a movement

11 February 2020
As we are bringing children up, poverty is bringing them down. It’s not right that poverty limits children’s chances at school. But when kids grow up poor, financial barriers prevent them from fully participating in school – such as the cost of uniforms, school trips, meals, after-school activities and much, much more. Together with Children North East, we want to lead a cultural shift across the UK to make the school day more inclusive and allow all children to have a happy, healthy and enriching school experience. Children deserve nothing less.

Placing children’s experiences at the heart of our work

30 January 2020
Poverty Proofing the School Day is a National Programme we have been running at Children North East since 2014. We developed Poverty Proofing the School Day after a consultation with children and young people. We gave out disposable cameras to young people and asked them to take pictures of what poverty looked like to them in their communities.