‘Hidden costs’ of state schools causing hardship for millions, says report

The Guardian is reporting that millions of families are struggling with the hidden costs of sending children to state school, with many forced to take out loans or scrimp on food and heating to pay for basics such as dinners, uniforms, course materials and trips…

Parents face average annual bills of £800 a pupil, although this can be much higher, with some state secondary school uniforms costing more than £500, making the idea of a free education “far from reality”, according to the Children’s Commission on Poverty inquiry.

More than 95% of parents on low incomes reported difficulties meeting school-related costs, while large numbers of poorer children said they fell behind academically and were subjected to humiliation, embarrassment and bullying because their poverty made them “stand out” in the classroom.

Large numbers of schools were flouting government guidance obliging them to ensure school uniform was affordable, the inquiry report said, while some schools ignored legal requirements not to charge pupils for national curriculum course-related materials.

The report of the inquiry, supported by the Children’s Society and led by a panel of 16 children, said teachers and schools often did not comprehend the psychological impact of poverty on pupils. They failed to do enough to prevent poorer pupils being stigmatised, and adopted practices that often inadvertently identified them as “poor”, such as by segregating pupils in receipt of free school meals…

Uniforms represented a big challenge to many parents, the inquiry found, with huge variations in costs of state-school clothing. Costs ranged from as little as £34 a pupil to more than £500, with an average of £108 for primary school uniforms and £126 for secondary.

The inquiry found that schools were increasingly insisting on policies that required parents to buy clothing with embroidered names and logos, or branded blazers and sports kit. One parent said that “there was a trend for publicly funded schools to adopt uniforms more commonly seen at private school”. An academy school in London had introduced a new uniform costing £225 – more than double the £99 price of the old one, forcing 70 families to take out loans…

More at: ‘Hidden costs’ of state schools causing hardship for millions, says report

 

I remember having to queue every Monday morning to get my free meal vouchers when I was at school which probably wasn’t the greatest idea (although I can’t remember it bothering me, but that was an very long time ago!).

 

Do you accept the findings suggested here? Do teachers and schools fail to understand the impact of poverty on pupils and inadvertently facilitate situations that result in children being identified as poor? Please let us know your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. neilayates

    SchoolsImprove Not to mention £47 monthly bus cost (Faith tax) to send my daughter to high school her primary school feeds.Outrageous

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove In defence of schools now demanding logos on uniform, it avoids disagreements over suitability of non-logo clothing

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The attitude “no-one gets Ofsted’s Outstanding rating without a blazer” increasingly common. This will add significant costs

  4. rhcaseby

    SchoolsImprove Many schools make provision for PP students, but increasingly families just above eligibility threshold being hit hard.

  5. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove is this a subtle way of increasing selectivism? Although many schools do subsidise uniforms for disadvantaged students.

  6. jay__ell

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove that’s sensible ..as long as parents can buy from more than 1 supplier to get price competition & not monopoly

  7. andylutwyche

    jay__ell SchoolsImprove Absolutely – schools must keep a close eye on suppliers and not be scared to shop around if need be

  8. petenealon

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove do some schools deliberately go for more expensive coloured Blazers to price ‘undesirable’ families out?

  9. andylutwyche

    petenealon SchoolsImprove That’s a good question and one I can’t answer with any confidence. It could happen

  10. colinsparkbridg

    stevesheehan52 SchoolsImprove Armed forces may need uniforms but why young people? Abolish ALL school uniform!

  11. lloyd1024

    petenealon andylutwyche SchoolsImprove what a question! Somewhere in the UK it’s bound to happen. Very unlikely (I hope).

  12. mr_m_bevan

    stevesheehan52 SchoolsImprove I genuinely doubt this is the reason for change. Saves a significant amount of money going cashless I think

  13. gcooksey

    SchoolsImprove the old uniform debate is at worse a reflection of a class system and at best a distraction. How does it impact on learners?

  14. stevesheehan52

    mr_m_bevan SchoolsImprove you are correct. However I never suggested my tweet was the primary reason for the introduction.

  15. mr_m_bevan

    stevesheehan52 SchoolsImprove true – although wouldn’t it have been nice if pupils WERE the primary reason for change

  16. Busy Mum

    ‘poor children’? – those on FSM get a lot of other things subsidised. FSM children seem to go on all the trips whilst those of us who pay our way have to be selective about which trips we can afford for our children.

  17. Janet2

    Expensive uniforms, braided blazers from a sole supplier, for example, and insisting on PE/book bags with the school logo, are a way of deterring children who might not do so well in exams.

  18. Janet2

    @FionaTipper SchoolsImprove  ‘School governing bodies and local authorities, subject to the limited exceptions referred to in this advice, cannot charge for education provided during school hours (including the supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment.’

    From latest advice from DfE available here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/365929/charging_for_school_activities_-_October_2014.pdf

  19. Janet2

    @FionaTipper SchoolsImprove  ‘School governing bodies and local authorities, subject to the limited exceptions referred to in this advice, cannot charge for education provided during school hours (including the supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment.’

    From latest advice from DfE available here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/365929/charging_for_school_activities_-_October_2014.pdf

  20. Janet2

    Busy Mum  ‘… no child should be excluded from an activity simply because his or her parents are unwilling or unable to pay. If insufficient voluntary contributions are raised to fund a visit, or the school cannot fund it from some other source, then it must be cancelled. Schools must ensure that they make this clear to parents. If a parent is unwilling or unable to pay, their child must still be given an equal chance to go on the visit.’

    From latest DfE guidance available here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/365929/charging_for_school_activities_-_October_2014.pdf

Let us know what you think...