Schools all set to tackle child poverty

Child poverty awareness training is to be rolled out at all schools in Edinburgh after a successful year long pilot project run by the City of Edinburgh Council.

'1 in 5 Raising Awareness of Child Poverty in Edinburgh’ proved so successful it has even ‘changed the culture’ of some of the six pilot schools.

The project took place in five primary and one high school, working with staff, pupils and parents to raise awareness of the scale, causes and impacts of child poverty. It also challenged poverty-related stigma and looked into what practical actions could be taken by schools to make school more affordable for families on low incomes.

The report makes key recommendations relating to school uniforms, food/drink, school trips, events, raising awareness and curriculum.

Lucy Henderson, Head Teacher at Hillwood Primary School, said the project had changed the culture of her school.

She said: “The impact of the 1 in 5 Project has been huge as staff, pupils and parents have changed the way they think about poverty. Pupils realise that poverty doesn’t just affect children in Africa, it affects pupils in schools throughout Scotland.

“We have made lots of changes this year such as providing PE kits for families to rent every term, the setting up of a Pop-Up shop for school items and giving parents more notice of school trips so they can plan ahead financially.

“However we are all aware that this is a work in progress and we know there are further measures that we can take to reduce the cost of the school day for all our families.”

Councillor Paul Godzik, Education, Children and Families Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The 1 in 5 Project has had a dramatic impact in the pilot schools by challenging people’s perceptions of child poverty and addressing the barriers that exist within the community so it’s really positive news that we are now going to be rolling out across the rest of our schools.

“The project demonstrated that by raising awareness of child poverty, which affects over 21% of young people in the Capital, we can all make a real difference when it comes to tackling this issue.

“It’s a fact that children from poorer backgrounds lag behind at all stages of education so it’s important we do all we can to close the attainment gap and we will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to ensure everything is done to ensure children are given every opportunity to have the best possible start in life.”

Some key statistics re child poverty in Edinburgh:

  • Just over 21% of children in Edinburgh live in poverty and this figure is forecast to increase significantly by 2020
  • Every area of the city is affected with each Council ward having child poverty rates of over 10%
  • It’s estimated that the cost of delivering services to address the impact in the Capital is around £156m a year.
  • Children are considered as living in poverty if they live in households with less than 60% of median household income - this is the key measure used by the UK and Scottish Governments.
  • This means a lone parent with two children is in poverty if they are living on less than £326 per week before housing costs are deducted. A couple with two children is in poverty if they have less than £416 per week before housing costs (Scottish Government, June 2015).

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