Cost of the School Day | CPAG

Cost of the School Day

breaking down the financial barriers to education

The Cost of Learning in Lockdown

To understand how lockdown has impacted children’s experience of learning this year, we conducted some research through surveys and interviews. Our Cost of Learning in Lockdown report (March 2021 update) contains our findings and recommendations about what has helped and what more is needed to support families during this period.

Read the UK report 

Read the Scotland report

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.

Resources, Support 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.
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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

New survey: families lack digital tools for home learning and worry more about costs

17 March 2021
More than a third of low-income families are missing essential digital resources for future home learning; parents had to make ‘impossible choices’ to decide who got access to digital devices and bandwidth while schools were closed; concern about money is higher than last year among poorer families; 90% of low-income families spent more on bills with children at home in lockdown.

The Cost of Learning in Lockdown: March 2021 update

The Cost of Learning in Lockdown (March 2021 update) is a report based on surveys carried out with parents, carers, children and young people asking them about their family's experience of learning during lockdown, with particular focus on families struggling with money.