Children’s access to critical educational opportunities is becoming increasingly dependent on their parents’ ability to pay, the NASUWT, the fastest growing teachers’ union in Scotland, has told STUC Congress today.
The increasing costs families face in sending their children to school are acting as a barrier to children and young people’s participation in activities and educational opportunities, the Union has told representatives in Aviemore.
A recent NASUWT survey found that in Scotland:
- 57% of parents said that school uniform had to be purchased from a particular supplier. Restricting the purchase to one supplier often means the items are more expensive;
- One in ten said they were required by their child’s school to purchase computer equipment such as a tablet or laptop. 7% said that the cost of equipment affected what subjects their child chose to study;
- Nearly one in five (19%) said they had been in arrears or debt to their child’s school for payments for things such as lunches or activities, with over a third (36%) saying that the situation was not dealt with sensitively by the school.
- Nearly one in ten (9%) said they were unable to allow their child to participate in an educational trip or visit in the last year due to the cost and 17% said their child was unable to participate in non-curriculum related trips such as residential, foreign or end of term excursions due to cost;
- 17% said the potential costs associated with attending a particular school affected where they chose to send their child and one in five (20%) said they had been put off a school completely because of the potential costs associated with sending their child there.
“It is clear that families are facing significant substantial hidden costs in supporting their children’s education and that access to the full range of educational opportunities is becoming ever more dependent on parents’ ability to pay.
“These costs have the potential to entrench the inequality which children and young people from lower income families already experience and undermine attempts to close the attainment gap.
“The NASUWT will be lobbying the Scottish Government to raise awareness and to put in place strategies to ensure that access to education is not based on parents’ ability to pay.”
Jane Peckham, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said:
“Young people should not be placed in a situation where course options and decisions on what subjects to study are narrowed down on the basis of cost.
“Family finances should not be a brake on children’s educational opportunities or horizons.”