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School pupils bullied for being poor, finds report

The cost of equipping a child for school is putting financial pressure on many families. Picture (posed by models): Callum Bennetts

The cost of equipping a child for school is putting financial pressure on many families. Picture (posed by models): Callum Bennetts

  • by KEVAN CHRISTIE
 

LOW-INCOME families in Scotland face spiralling costs which prevent children from performing well at school and limits their future opportunities.

Findings contained in a report out today reveals Save the Children believes the financial burden for families on the breadline is directly linked to a child’s ability to fully take part in school life.

Around 1,000 secondary school pupils from across the country gave their views for the Learning Lessons: Young People’s Views on Poverty and Education in Scotland report. The joint publication by Save the Children and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People highlights the impact a range of costs from text-books and classroom materials to school trips and uniforms can lead to pupils being bullied and stigmatised for being poor.

The report shows 88 per cent of pupils who took part consider education to be an essential factor to being successful in life with young people saying poverty and lack of money influence their decision-making.

It will be launched today at an Edinburgh event with secretary for education and lifelong learning Mike Russell in attendance.

Key messages from young people surveyed show how 
living in poverty can lead to pupils being punished if they don’t have the right equipment or school uniform.

The survey found costs stack up and put pressure on family budgets. These items included basic materials for school work including pens, pencils, rulers, jotters and calculators and 
additional costs for materials for some subjects, such as design and technology, music and home economics. School uniforms and school trips also incurred hefty costs.

Save the Children and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People are calling on the Scottish Government to eliminate the financial barriers to learning in school.

Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s hgead of Scotland, said: “Scotland’s education system needs to ensure the poorest pupils aren’t penalised and, instead, are given every opportunity to fulfil their potential.

“We want policy-makers and school leaders to listen and act.”

Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “This report raises some important issues for policy-makers and politicians to consider how they can better support those children and young people who feel the impact of poverty on their education and daily lives.”

In welcoming the report, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and that is why, through the Children and Young People Act, there will be a statutory duty on Scottish Ministers to take appropriate account of the views of children when developing policies.

“Learning should be about the ability to learn, not the ­ability to pay but all of the ­evidence shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to experience worse ­outcomes in education than those who enjoy greater ­advantages.

“This is completely unacceptable and the Scottish Government is committed to narrowing this attainment gap and reducing child poverty.”

 

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