Supporting families in times of financial hardship: a guide for schools

Post date: 
06 December 2022

At a time of sharply increasing costs and stretched family budgets, ensuring that children have all they need to take part in school is another worry for families. With uniform, stationery, trips, clubs, non-uniform days, cake sales, discos, fairs, lunches and transport, the reality is that it can cost families a lot to send their children to school. 

While tackling broader economic challenges is not the role of schools, what schools do to support families with school-related costs does make a difference. Looking at what is paid for in school, how costs and money are talked about, and how support is communicated are very practical ways for schools to support families at times of economic hardship. 

This resource is based on interviews and surveys carried out with over 1,900 parents and carers from 55 schools across England, Scotland and Wales through the UK Cost of the School Day project. It highlights the challenges that families face when it comes to school costs, as well as helpful tips and suggestions for schools to consider. 

The guide will help schools consider how they’re already supporting families and how they can make small changes to policies, practices and communications to help families through times of economic difficulty. 

The guide covers key things schools should know and what schools can do across four themes:

  1. Relieving rising costs and pressures
  2. Payment processes 
  3. Communicating support 
  4. Supporting all families

Many of the suggested actions are straightforward and cost-neutral. They simply encourage schools to think slightly differently about how money is talked about and handled to bring about greater inclusion for those struggling with money or living on a low income.