Dundee City Council has been charged with finding ways to help hard-pressed families cope with the cost of sending their children to school.
The council has been asked to respond to a CPAG Scotland report which looked into the cost of the school day and poverty-related issues across the city’s institutions to identify potential actions to take forward.
The study sets out how a range of costs across the school day can impact on pupils’ ability to participate, belong and achieve alongside their peers.
Particular costs highlighted include lunch, uniform, trips — particularly the P7 residential — and charges for core subjects like home economics, drama and art.
John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “Many Dundee schools and staff working in them are clearly sensitive to the fact that lots of families are struggling financially, and there is fantastic work happening across the city to keep school costs low and to support families where needed.
“But cost barriers still remain and are preventing too many children from getting the most out of their education.
“We look forward to sharing the good practice examples and recommendations in this report, and welcome the real commitment shown in Dundee to ensure all children are able to fully participate at school.”
Researchers spoke to a school teacher who reported that children unable to participate in the same activities as their peers “will very often not feel included and this can have a negative impact on health and wellbeing”.
Meanwhile, one parent revealed how they dread school trips due to the additional cost and said “it might just be £5 but you’ve still got to find the money from somewhere”.
A further year’s funding has been recommended to pay for the development and implementation of school action plans “to remove financial obstacles and stigma” for families struggling to make ends meet.
Children and families service convener Gregor Murray said: “This is a hard-hitting piece of research that raises a number of questions that the children and families service will need time to consider and respond to.
“In Dundee, we have been tackling poverty on a number of fronts and the Fairness Commission is a constant influence on the way the council goes about its business.
“We raised the school clothing grant in Dundee to £100 in recognition of the struggles that families were facing.
“Significant assistance from the Scottish Government has allowed us to make progress in narrowing the poverty attainment gap.
“This report about the cost of the school day gives us many issues to think over and solutions need to be carefully considered.”