Members of Fife’s largest teaching union have welcomed council plans to “poverty proof” schools to ease the pressure on struggling families.
However Fife EIS is seeking more details on the launch of the new Poverty Matters training programme.
The scheme, being developed in conjunction with Edinburgh City Council, will be shared with all school staff to help raise awareness of poverty and how they can help.
The Courier revealed on Friday that councillors had been updated on the progress being made in the region’s schools to address the sometimes hidden costs in sending children to school – from uniforms and sports equipment to school trips and packed lunches.
David Farmer, publicity officer for EIS Fife, said the union had done a substantial amount of work on bringing down the cost of the school day and welcomed the report presented to Fife’s education and children’s services committee last week.
“We would of course welcome the roll out of this training programme, and we are aware that there are a number of schools where they are already ‘poverty proofing’ everything they do, in terms of the curriculum and providing kids with resources where there might be an issue with accessing these resources at home,” he said.
“We need to wait and see how the programme is rolled out, but it’s obviously going to cost a bit of money.
“We do support poverty proofing, but the expectation on our part is that the council is prepared to substantially fund that.”
Schools are already running a range of programmes to help lower the cost of the school day.
Queen Anne High in Dunfermline run a swap shop for uniforms and pupils raised funds to buy a washing machine and have the shop professionally fitted out.
Inverkeithing High School has a resource bank called the Inverkeithing Exchange that pupils can use to access materials for practical subjects such as art and design and manufacture.
Wormit Primary provides all writing materials and can supply additional pairs of gym shoes. It also provides extra time in school for children to use computers if they have no access to the internet at home.
Many schools have capped the cost of school trips, such as Lynburn Primary which operates a donation scheme rather than a fixed cost.
SNP councillor Fay Sinclair, convener of Fife Council’s education and children’s services committee, said: “From uniform swap shops and universal breakfast clubs, to targeted support for families, the training and ‘top tips’ developed in Fife are already leading to schools being more poverty-aware and taking steps to minimise the impact on children and families
“Within Fife, just under one quarter of our children are living in poverty. They aren’t all living in disadvantaged areas either, less than half of them do.
“That’s why it is so important to be aware of the impact of poverty in all our schools.
“We don’t want any of our children to feel excluded or ashamed or stigmatised by poverty.”