Education Secretary praises innovative approach.
Pupils and staff at Braes High School in Falkirk have been highlighting their innovate approaches to help cut the cost of the school day for families, as part of Challenge Poverty Week.
Cost-saving initiatives include the creation of ‘Take What You Need’ trolleys with essential school items, toiletries and snacks. S1 pupils also receive a Braes Backpack which contains a school starter kit.
The school has received more than £369,000 of Scottish Government Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) in recent years, supporting a range of work including these latest initiatives.
Scotland has the most generous universal free school meal offer of any nation in the UK – saving families an average of £400 per eligible child per year – while the School Clothing Grant has been increased so that those who are eligible receive at least £120 per child of primary school age and £150 per secondary pupil.
The 2023-24 Programme for Government set out commitments to further support reductions in the cost of the school day by funding the removal of core curriculum charges, further expanding free school meals and increasing the school clothing grant for the next academic year.
On a visit to the school, the Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said:
“It was hugely encouraging to visit Braes High School during Challenge Poverty Week and to witness the innovative approaches pupils and staff have adopted to deal with the challenges that, sadly, too many of our young people and their families are facing.
“This work has been supported by the Scottish Government’s Pupil Equity Funding scheme – with more than £520 million this parliamentary term empowering headteachers to take creative and innovative approaches to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap.
“We are determined to do everything in our power to support families out of poverty, including investing in the game-changing Scottish Child Payment – part of a package of measures taken by this government which will help lift 90,000 children out of poverty in Scotland this year.
"We know that many families are still struggling, particularly as a result of the cost of living crisis. Tackling the cost of the school day is a key priority for the Scottish Government."
Sara Spencer, Cost of the School Day Project Manager at Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland:
“We have been delighted to work with Braes High School and their Cost of the School Day Pupil Group and see all of the meaningful ways young people have involved their school community and designed supports that help to make sure everyone can take part and feel included.
“Cost of the School Day at Braes is an inspiring example of what can happen when young people take the lead on equity in their own schools and a reminder of the impact that a poverty aware school culture and a clear focus on reducing the cost of the school day can have.”
Braes HS Head teacher Iain Livingstone said:
“Our young people, staff, parents/carers and the wider community work well together to challenge poverty and support all learners. Pupil Equity Funding has helped us take forward a number of projects and support to help our young people get the most out of their education.
“We enjoyed being able to speak with the Cabinet Secretary, and seeing our young people discuss the many developments and ideas they lead.”
Braes High School worked with the Child Poverty Action Group to develop these initiatives. They are part of the new Cost of the School Day Voice network of children and young people.
Schools in Falkirk Council have received more than £26 million from the Scottish Government between 2015-16 and 2022-23 to close the poverty related attainment gap
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