To understand how lockdown has impacted children’s experience of learning this year, our Cost of the School Day programme conducted some research through surveys and interviews. We gathered the experiences of 1,122 parents and carers and 649 children and young people in Scotland, with an emphasis on the experiences of low-income households. The 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. It builds on our previous research published in June 2020.
- 35% of low-income families responding to our survey are still missing essential resources for learning, with laptops and devices most commonly missing.
- Children in receipt of free school meals (FSM) are more likely than other pupils to report sharing devices at home and using mobile phones to complete schoolwork.
- 75% of families receiving cash payments to replace free school meals say this works well or very well; satisfaction levels are far lower for other methods.
- Low-income families say they are more concerned about money than spring 2020 and 90% report spending more on essential bills while children are at home.
- Children and young people most want help with learning and finding a routine when they return to school.
- UK and Scottish governments should prioritise financial support for low-income families, building on the Scottish Government's Child Payment and Winter and Spring hardship payments welcomed by families in difficult times.
- Scottish Government should build on its very welcome commitment to universal P1-P7 free school meals by reviewing FSM eligibility thresholds more widely so that support reaches those who need it across primary and secondary school. Cash first approaches are necessary for any FSM provision outwith school.
- Schools and local authorities should implement poverty aware practices and policies, to support families in the recovery period and beyond. This includes reducing schoolrelated costs, maximising incomes and access to out of school care and holiday provision.
- Government, local authorities and schools should continue work to ensure all children and young people can access their entitlement to appropriate physical resources and have what they needat home to learnwhether in or out of school in the coming months.