Is your school poverty proof?

5th November 2014

The Children’s Commission on Poverty has published it’s findings on the impact of poverty on school life. Building on the Poverty Proofing model started by Children North East and the NE Child Poverty Commission, the research found that the average cost of sending children to state school is £800.

The ‘Through young eyes’ report was led by 16 young commissioners aged 10-19 and captures the voice of children and young people as well as evidence from parliamentary hearings and written evidence from charities and public bodies.

More than two-thirds (71 per cent) of parents said they had to buy either some or all items of school uniform from a specific supplier.

Parents said they spend on average £108 on school clothing for primary school children and £126 for secondary school children. However, only one in five (22 per cent) of families who are ‘not well-off at all’ had received any help to purchase a school uniform.

Half of parents said they had struggled with the cost of school meals, and one in five children said they have missed a school meal because they did not have enough money.

One in five children (19 per cent) in a family that is ‘not well off at all’ said they had been embarrassed because their family cannot afford meals.

A third of children who said their family is ‘not well off at all’ have fallen behind in class because their family could not afford the necessary books or materials, including lack of access to the internet and computers.

The young commissioners make 12 recommendations including:
• Schools should choose a more affordable, simple, coloured uniform, available with sew-on logos.
• All schools should have a cashless system for school meals.
• Schools must be more transparent with parents and students on how pupil premium money is being spent and young people for whom pupil premium funding is paid should have a say in what it gets spent on.

Sara Bryson, Policy and Business Development Officer from Children North East, who helped develop the original poverty proofing model has written

10 top poverty proofing tips for NE schools.