CHARGES TO BE ABOLISHED AS COST OF THE SCHOOL DAY TARGETED

The Deputy First Minister John Swinney has pledged to tear down barriers to learning as he unveiled a package of practical measures designed to reduce the cost of the school day.

The Education Secretary has confirmed that an SNP government will end the practice – common in practical subjects such as art and design, music, home economics, hospitality and technology – of pupils being expected to pay fees for materials or provide their own.

Mr Swinney will also say that every pupil should be able to take part fully in school trips, including P7 residential trips and at least one optional secondary school trip. Children should not miss out simply because their parents cannot afford the cost and an SNP Government will therefore exempt less-well off families from the costs of trips and activities.

He announced that grants towards school uniform costs for poorer families will increase from the £100 minimum to £120 in Primary School and £150 in Secondary School. In future this grant will be linked to inflation and reviewed to ensure it meets the real costs faced by families. The use of exclusive branded retailers – which often leads to higher costs for families – will be banned.

The announcements complete a manifesto package, to be unveiled later this week, aimed at reducing the cost of the school day, including:

– free school breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils,
– universal provision of an age-appropriate laptop, Chromebook or tablet for all school pupils,
– abolition of core curriculum charges such as materials fees in practical subjects,
– increasing the school uniform grant, and 
– exempting poorer families from the cost of school trips.

Commenting on the announcement SNP Ruth Maguire for Cunninghame South said:

“Our ambition is to make Scotland the best place to grow up, for every child. 

“That is why, if re-elected, the SNP will introduce a number of policies to help and support families, including extending free school meals to ensure that no child will have to learn while hungry.

“We know that some families are sacrificing essentials like heating, food and rent payments so that their children can participate fully at school. This is simply unacceptable. 

“If re-elected, charges for practical subjects in school will be abolished, poorer families will be exempt from the cost of school trips and the value of uniform grants will be increased. By reducing the cost of the school day, we will make a real difference in the lives of children from low-income families. 

“The pandemic has effected childhoods across the country, we need progressive policies like this to counter that and to build a better future for our children.

“In a country as wealthy as Scotland, no pupil should struggle to learn because of poverty – and by giving both votes to the SNP on May 6th, people can elect a government which is absolutely committed to tearing down the barriers to education that still exist, and ensuring all children can get the best start in life.”