SNP to promise more help with cost of school day

Party will promise help with practical subject costs, school trips and school uniform

Tes Reporter

SNP to promise more help with cost of school day

The SNP is promising to scrap charges for practical subjects and to provide more help for poorer children with the cost of school trips, as more details emerge about political parties’ manifesto priorities.

Education secretary John Swinney will today also promise that if the SNP is re-elected to power next month, it will increase the grant that disadvantaged families get to help with the cost of buying school uniform.

Mr Swinney will say that the SNP is “absolutely committed to tearing down the barriers to education that still exist and ensuring all children can get the best start in life”.

Background: Schools charge as much as £125 for practical courses

Parent perspective: An open letter to teachers from a parent in poverty

Cost of the school day: How to make school affordable for struggling families

Scottish election 2021: Parties' education policies at the start of the campaign

Charges are commonly applied in subjects such as art and design, music, home economics, hospitality and technology, although help is often available to pupils whose families may struggle with costs.

As well as abolishing such costs, a future SNP government would exempt pupils from poorer families from the costs of school trips, while grants for uniforms would be increased from the current £100 minimum to £120 for primary school and £150 for secondary school.

The payments will be linked to inflation and reviewed to ensure they meet the costs faced by families.

The policy commitments come as the party prepares to publish its manifesto for the 6 May Scottish Parliament election.

The SNP has previously promised to help pupils with free school breakfasts and lunches in primary school, and by providing every pupil with a laptop or tablet to help with their learning.

Mr Swinney will say: “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.

“The pandemic has been tough for everyone but particularly so for the younger generations – and by reducing the cost of the school day, we will make a real difference in the lives of children from low-income families.”

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