Today, NHS Health Scotland and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland have jointly launched a suite of resources to raise awareness, prompt discussion and take action to combat child poverty in schools.
The first resource from NHS Health Scotland is a short film on the cost of school. The film shows a range of people, including teachers, parent councils and community planners, sharing their current experiences and insights on some of the impacts of poverty on school life and barriers to participation in it.
The second is a new Cost of the School Day Toolkit. Designed by CPAG Scotland, the toolkit will support action to reduce financial barriers to participation at school for children from low income households. Research shows that school costs stand in the way of children’s learning and taking part in school. This toolkit supports consultation on school costs with whole school communities and highlights steps which schools and local authorities can take to reduce costs and support children and families on low incomes.
Ashleigh Jenkins, Senior Health Improvement Officer- Child Poverty, at NHS Health Scotland said
"It’s not right that children living in poverty can expect to live 14 years less than children from wealthier backgrounds. We know that income matters to children’s health and wellbeing. Whilst schools can’t eradicate child poverty alone, many are helping to make the most of household income by reducing costs and therefore mitigating child poverty in schools. We are delighted to be working with CPAG Scotland and others to enable action that will improve health and reduce health inequalities to ensure that every child in Scotland can enjoy their right to the highest attainable standard of health.”
Sara Spencer, Cost of the School Day Project Manager at CPAG Scotland, said
“School costs must not stop children from low income households from participating, thriving and achieving to their fullest potential. Every child in Scotland should be able to make the most of the school day without costs standing in their way. There are countless ways in which schools can support children and families on low incomes and many schools and local authorities are already doing fantastic things to reduce and remove the costs of the school day. The Cost of the School Day toolkit is packed full of helpful tried and tested resources which can support schools and local authorities to listen to children and families and design their own approaches to addressing financial barriers.”
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell, said
“We are committed to tackling child poverty and have highlighted a range of actions through our tackling child poverty delivery plan.
“This includes measures to help families maximise incomes, a £12 million fund to support parents into work and develop their skills, and a £7.5 million innovation fund to support new approaches to preventing and reducing child poverty, and an additional £1m to support children experiencing food insecurity during the school holidays. We introduced a £100 national minimum school clothing grant in time for the 2018/19 academic year which will benefit an estimated 120,000 families.
“In addition, our investment of £750 million during the course of this Parliament will tackle the poverty related attainment gap and ensure every child in Scotland has an equal chance to succeed. This includes another £120 million of Pupil Equity Funding direct to schools this year, used by many to provide a range of opportunities for families to learn and play together over the school holidays.”