Spotlight on local authority Cost of the School Day approaches (May 2021)

Last year’s independent Cost of the School Day evaluation offers lots of insight into ‘what works’ when it comes to local approaches – to find out more, take a look at our briefing for local authorities.

We know that these are just some of the approaches being taken across Scotland. If you would like to share what’s happening in your local authority with others, get in touch to tell us about it at [email protected].

In Dundee from 2017-20, as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland worked in partnership with schools across the city to help reduce financial barriers to education. Key activities have included:

  • Ongoing Cost of the School Day support for all schools to develop and implement action plans based on consultation with their school communities.
  • Whole school child poverty and Cost of the School Day professional learning sessions.
  • Basic poverty and benefits advice training for family school link workers.
  • The development of a local Cost of the School Day Practice Network for school staff to share challenges and effective approaches.
  • Work with children and young people on tackling poverty stigma in their own schools.

You can read more about Dundee's Cost of the School Day journey here.

In North Lanarkshire, Cost of the School Day training has been delivered to a champion representative from each school in the local authority. The local authority anti-poverty work stream group is now working to develop an authority wide Cost of the School Day position statement alongside guidance for schools.

In 2018 Midlothian received the Scottish Government Community Choices fund, and 11 Primary Schools were allocated funding to:

  • Test interventions and projects in their school, which had been developed by children aged between 8 and 12 and their parents.
  • Help raise teacher and pupil awareness of the issues surrounding poverty.

As part of Dumfries and Galloway’s Antipoverty Strategy, the local authority:

  • Introduced Poverty Awareness Training for all education staff in the region, to challenge some of the common beliefs about poverty, and promote better understanding of the real situation for families living with low incomes.
  • Surveyed children and young people on the ‘Big Deal’ and ‘No Big Deal’ issues they faced, which concluded that the costs of learning, travel, food and uniform were of most concern to families.
  • Will encourage the introduction of practical steps to reduce the ‘Big Deal’ costs highlighted by the pupil survey.
  • Identified actions designed to tackle attitudes to poverty.

As part of Stirling’s work to address child poverty and reduce the poverty related attainment gap, the local authority set up its Cost of the School Day Working Group in 2016. The aim of the group is to support schools to develop and approach to poverty proofing schools in Stirling, including:

  • Assessing the impact of education policies and school practices on the participation and school experience of children and young people from low income households.
  • Testing the use of a Stirling Council child poverty fund to support families with the costs of the school day.
  • Identifying and making links with other initiatives that aim to reduce the impact of poverty for families with children.
  • Increasing local awareness of good practice to minimise the impact of school costs on families on a low income.
  • Making recommendations for a longer term approach for poverty proofing schools in Stirling.

Tackling poverty and inequality has a much higher profile in schools and has become a priority within the service as a result of the work done by the Working Group. Resources produced by the Group have been distributed, and schools have been encouraged to build a Cost of the School day approach to staff development session, policies and plans.

Glasgow continues to promote the Cost of the School Day initiative. To share existing good practice, and to provide the opportunity to develop new Cost of the School Day approaches, the local authority has:

  • Established Cost of the School Day ‘champions’ across the city. A designated Quality Improvement Officer facilitates networking opportunities for the COSD champions and ensures that they carry out training and delivery in a consistent manner.
  • Developed Parent Council training materials, which can be easily accessed by Parent Councils on Glasgow On-Line, the internal schools website.
  • Ensured that the COSD message is a standing item within the first in-service day’s in-set training for all staff across the city.


The Fife Partnership is taking steps to reduce financial barriers at school for children from low income households. Following a survey which asked children and parents about costs and their impact, the local authority has:

  • Released a report which recommends a ‘whole-school’ approach to minimising school costs and tackling the stigma around poverty.
  • Provided training for school staff, and guidance to schools around examining the cost of the school day, and finding approaches to reduce them.
  • Promoted ongoing work in schools to reduce stigma and raise awareness of the impact of child poverty.


In Edinburgh the 1 in 5 project is continuing to raise awareness and understanding of child poverty, and develop actions schools can take to alleviate costs. The project:

  • Provides training for school leads, who take forward the work to raise awareness about child poverty, and the costs associated with school within their own establishment.
  • Holds regular meetings for schools to share their practice and learning around these issues.
  • Works in partnership with NHS Lothian and the Community Help and Advice Initiative. They are currently piloting a new approach to delivering welfare advice: Welfare Rights Workers are being co-located in a two Primary schools, a high school and two special schools to provide financial support and advice to parents.
  • This work has led to the publication of the Edinburgh Pupil Equity Framework.


In Aberdeen, schools and parents have been surveyed about the Cost of the School Day. Using the data collected a working group has been developing guidance for schools on:

  • Reducing the cost of school trips and school uniform sales.
  • Signposting families to financial advice.
  • Removing or reducing costs for specialist equipment in Technology and home economics, especially for families who receive free meals.

If you would like to tell us about other Cost of the School Day measures your local authority has put in place, contact us at [email protected]