£100 uniform subsidy for poor Scottish pupils

Move aims to make school uniform more affordable for poor families

Scotland to introduce £100 minimum school clothing grant

Poor families in Scotland are set to receive at least £100 each towards the cost of school uniforms.

The move, which comes two weeks after Tes Scotland highlighted concerns about the price of some school uniforms, is designed to alleviate the “considerable cost” that many poor families struggled to afford.

An estimated 120,000 families will benefit from the new £100 "national minimum school clothing grant", which has been agreed between local authorities and the Scottish government.

Concerns have frequently been raised that local clothing grants can be several times higher in some parts of the country than others, and often well below £100.

Now, however, all eligible families, regardless of their local authority area, will have access to the same minimum level of financial support for school clothing.

The scheme will start in 2018-19. Overall annual costs are expected to reach £12 million, split between the government and local authorities.

The government said the size of the grant would be reviewed every two years to ensure that the amount available remains in line with cost of living.

Education secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Every child in Scotland should be able to attend school feeling comfortable, confident and ready to learn.”

He added that “school uniforms can be a considerable cost for families” and that the new grant would “help relieve pressure on families, reduce costs of living and remove the stress and stigma which can often be associated with struggling to afford essential school items”.

Stephen McCabe, children and young people spokesman for local authorities body Cosla, said: “Access to decent clothing is an important part of ensuring children have the best chance of getting the most from their education. Therefore, it is only right that we do the best we can to create as much of a level playing field as we can in terms of school uniform.”  

In April, Tes Scotland reported that “unnecessary fripperies” on school uniforms – such as piping on blazers and elaborate logos – were pricing out poor families, while critics say that the evidence for school uniform is weak in any case.

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