The newly formed Giffnock Primary School parent equalities group in East Renfrewshire adapted a Cost of the School Day survey to find out how families had been affected financially by Covid and lockdown.
“This was the first big project that we’ve had where we’re able to build on what’s come out of it. Probably the most pressing issue in Scotland is poverty and children living in poverty so it seemed an important thing to get involved with.”
The group adapted the parent and carer survey from the Cost of the School Day Toolkit and shared it. At the same time, school staff were asking children for their views and experiences as part of the school’s Rights Respecting School agenda.
The parent and carer survey went out right after the second lockdown in early 2021. Families in the area who had never experienced financial difficulties before were now facing furlough and job losses:
“It was at a time that lots of people were in a situation they hadn’t been in before and they maybe hadn’t experienced finding their way around benefits and structures and supports.”
The equalities group was very aware that their school needed to avoid assumptions about financial need in this new climate and make sure that all voices in their school community were being heard:
“We know there is a need. We can’t assume that someone’s postcode defines their personal circumstances because it’s definitely not the case. Covid was something that touched everyone in some way so there was a real ‘don’t assume’ part to this for us. Let’s ask.”
The survey received over 190 responses, even more than the group and the school had been expecting, and responses are being used to inform the group’s future activities and the support that the school offers to its children and families.
“The challenge for us now that people have given us their information is to do something with it because that’ll help people express their opinion next time if they know they’re being listened to.”