Positive impact of schools project

Positive impact of schools project Image

A project being delivered in schools across Dundee is proving effective in helping more children participate in learning and achieve their full potential, a new report has found.

An evaluation led by NHS Health Scotland identified significant benefits from the Cost of the School Day project across the city and elsewhere in Scotland.

The findings report stated: “Since its implementation, Cost of the School Day has become the flagship policy to tackle child poverty in school, as shown by visible commitment among key partners across Dundee city.”

Children and families service convener Councillor Stewart Hunter said: “I welcome this evaluation report, which shows the clear positive impact our Cost of the School Day project is having on young people in Dundee.”

The evaluation found that a number of measures had been put in place to reduce uniform costs and poverty related stigma, from clothing swap schemes to bans on expensive footwear and other branded non-uniform clothing.

Every school spoken to in Dundee reported that it was operating a breakfast club in some form and innovative ways of providing breakfast were being looked at, including approaches like “toast on a tray” or breakfast boxes.

All primary schools that the report authors visited have prioritised the affordability of the Primary 7 residential trip for all pupils. Each school used various cost-saving measures such as changing the destination, reducing the duration of the trip, or subsidising the cost for all/some pupils.

The report stated: “School staff (in Dundee) generally agreed that there has been an increased understanding of the drivers and consequence of poverty, as well as a greater awareness among teachers and staff of the impact of associated school costs on children and their families.

“Many teachers said the programme has made them more aware of issues they had not considered before, for example, setting homework for children who may not have access to the materials or ICT that is needed to complete it.

“The school staff agreed that their actions had led, or were likely to lead, to increases in participation in school or after-school activities which should lead to increased learning opportunities for some pupils.”

The Dundee Fairness Commission, which considers the nature and extent of poverty in Dundee, instigated the Cost of the School Day Dundee project with the children and families service to “reduce stigma and the hidden costs of attending school and associated activities in Dundee.”

Councillor Hunter added: “We have been tackling poverty on a number of fronts and the Fairness Commission is a constant influence on the way the council goes about its business.

“We are all determined that children can make the most of their time at school.

“I would like to thanks the Cost of the School Day project for their ongoing work with us on these issues. As this report recognises, schools are looking at issues like school trips and uniforms and are coming up with imaginative solutions that are being shared around the city.

“This evaluation report identifies a number of areas of progress, but also that some barriers and challenges that remain, such as stigma. We and our schools are committed to doing all we can to overcome these.”

The evaluation is a result of partnership work between NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government, Dundee City Council and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

A number of Dundee initiatives are featured in a film supporting the Cost of the School Day national campaign.

Dr Megan Watson, Public Health Intelligence Adviser at NHS Health Scotland, said: “Our evaluation was designed to understand the impact the Cost of the School Day programme has made.

“We had two main findings: the programme has worked to change practice at school and local authority levels to help all children benefit from the educational experience; and it has raised awareness among school staff of the strong link between affordable school costs, equity in attainment and better health and wellbeing.”

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