Why address the Cost of the School Day?
“Education is free but a lot of school things are not.”
Families living on low incomes often struggle with the cost of the school day. Uniforms, trips, school lunches, gym kits, pencils and pens, dress down days, amongst other costs, can be difficult or impossible to afford. Missing out on opportunities because of financial barriers and feeling different makes it harder for children and young people to learn, achieve and be happy at school.
Increasing numbers of families across Scotland are struggling financially. More than one in four (260,000) children are currently living in poverty and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) forecasts an increase of more than 50% in the proportion of children living in poverty in the UK by 2020/21.
Poverty has a ferocious and long lasting effect on children’s health, wellbeing and educational attainment. Mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing are essential for successful learning. However, food insecurity, housing problems and financial stress and worry all contribute to poorer health outcomes and children from low income households are more likely to report feeling useless and hopeless about their future.
In terms of qualifications, there remains a significant and persistent gap in attainment between children from lower and higher income families. Since attainment at school is so strongly linked to future employment prospects, education can represent a route out of poverty for many young people. However coming from a low income household can affect how children 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.”
Strategies to narrow the poverty attainment gap will be less effective if the cost barriers which shape and limit children’s opportunities at school aren’t first addressed. Cost of the School Day helps you to identify and overcome these barriers.
Cost of the School Day involves children, parents and school staff to identify cost barriers and in take action to remove them. In local authorities which have adopted the Cost of the School Day approach, a range of changes have been made to help eliminate costs, ensure equal access to opportunities and reduce poverty related stigma and differences.
If we want to tackle poverty, every child from a low income household must be able to make the most of the school day.
The difference Cost of the School Day makes
What's already happening around Scotland
Support, Advice and Training
COST OF THE SCHOOL DAY TOOLKIT
Helping your school community to address the Cost of the School Day