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Facing up to child poverty in schools – what can be done to reduce the cost barriers of school? A national learning and dissemination event.

Post Event Information

The event aimed to challenge local areas to look at the impact of school costs on child poverty in their area through highlighting projects and approaches that have reduced barriers and increased equality and participation for low income families in schools in parts of Scotland. The event also aimed to encourage areas to take further action or to start their own conversation by developing local approaches to reduce school costs as part of their work in closing the attainment gap.

Learning outcomes for the event:

After the event the delegate will have:

  • Developed an understanding of the implications of cost barriers in closing the attainment gap and practical approaches to removing cost barriers
  • Raised their awareness of, and challenge, stigma and attitudes around child poverty
  • Become familiar with learning and recommendations from local projects across Scotland
  • Recognised the value of engagement with young people & parents in planning policies and approached to removing cost barriers in schools
  • Demonstrated practical examples of what can help reduce the impact on the participation and school experiences of children and young people from low income households
  • Identified feasible steps that could be taken locally to enhance the understanding and reduce the impact of child poverty in an school/educational setting

Opening address

Angela Constance MSP Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities

Key Scottish policy:

Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland - Our Approach - 2014 - 2017

Fairer Scotland Action Plan

Child Poverty Bill consultation

Consultation on Social Security in Scotland

Chair for morning session

Gerry McLaughlin - NHS Health Scotland 

NHS Health Scotland is a national Health Board working with public, private and third sectors to reduce health inequalities and improve health. Our corporate strategy, A Fairer Healthier Scotland, sets out our vision of a Scotland in which all of our people and communities have a fairer share of the opportunities, resources and confidence to live longer, healthier lives. Our mission is to reduce health inequalities and improve health. To do this we influence policy and practice, informed by evidence, and promote action across public services to deliver greater equality and improved health for all in Scotland.

Key supporting documents:

Child poverty, health and wellbeing eLearning module

Financial Inclusion Referral Pathway Toolkit

Publications and Research Evidence for Parents & Professionals


John Dickie - Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland

John Dickie is Director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland. He is responsible for promoting and influencing policies that will contribute to eradicating child poverty in Scotland and across the UK as well as overseeing the strategic development of second tier welfare rights support services that ensure frontline workers are able to support families to receive the tax credits and benefits that they are entitled to. He was previously Head of the Youth Unit at Scottish Council for Single Homeless. Before that he worked directly with young people experiencing homelessness, both as a volunteer and professional. He is a graduate from Aberdeen University in Sociology and Social Anthropology, and holds a postgraduate diploma in Housing Studies from Stirling University.

Presentation: John Dickie, Child Poverty Action Group Scotland 

Dr Morag Treanor – The University of Edinburgh

Morag is a lecturer in quantitative social policy, part of the Nuffield funded Q-Step programme to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training. Her research uses longitudinal methods, both quantitative and qualitative, to explore the impacts of poverty and persistently low income on children's wellbeing and educational transitions. Her research also focuses on the impact of family, peer and social relations on child and maternal wellbeing for those living with low income. Her quantitative research uses birth cohort data, mainly the Growing Up in Scotland study, as well as the Millennium Cohort Study data and Understanding Society. She is presently conducting longitudinal qualitative research with families affected by Welfare Reform with the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland called the Early Warning System. Morag is the Programme Director of the MSc in Social Research and a member of the Expert Advisory Group for the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland.

Presentation: Dr Morag Treanor, University of Edinburgh

Bill Ramsay - Educational Institute of Scotland

Bill Ramsay is the Convener of the Equality Committee in The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the largest teaching trade union in Scotland. A teacher of Modern Studies for nearly thirty years, he is currently the EIS Local Association Secretary for South Lanarkshire and a member of the National Executive and Education Committees.

School costs Film

Child Poverty Campaign

Professor Sue Ellis – University of Strathclyde Glasgow

Sue Ellis is interested in how to make literacy research, policy development and implementation more effective. This involves understanding how the local policy environments of schools and local authorities shape, and are shaped by, national frameworks and local authority organisational systems, data use and staff expertise. 

She has a strong commitment to knowledge exchange and to research that directly supports improved literacy outcomes for pupils. The recurring themes in her work concern literacy and equity, policy implementation and teacher development.  She developed the Strathclyde Literacy Clinic as an innovative and cost-efficient way to help student teachers become diagnostic, responsive literacy teachers, able to address children’s socio-cultural and cognitive knowledge. She is co-author of the influential Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on Closing The Attainment Gap In Scottish Education and was the ‘Education Lead’ on the Renfrewshire Poverty Commission, chaired by Sir Harry Burns.  She is a frequent guest on TV and radio current affairs programmes such as Scotland 2015, Scotland Tonight, and You and Yours, commenting on education issues. Professor Ellis is Co-Director of the Centre for Education and Social Policy, which brings together expertise from across the university and is part of Strathclyde’s International Public Policy Institute. Before joining Strathclyde University, Professor Ellis worked in Primary Schools in West Sussex and in the east end of London.

Presentation: Professor Sue Ellis, University of Strathclyde

Chair Afternoon session

Mary Ann Hagan – Education Scotland

Mary Ann Hagan has been an HM Inspector of Education since 2009. She has been lead officer for Inspection and is currently a lead officer for the Scottish Attainment Challenge. Mary Ann originally taught within the local authority sector in Scotland. To further her professional development she moved to Kuwait in 1991 following the Gulf War.  Mary Ann has been head teacher of schools at home and abroad. She served on many of the Government of Kuwait and Thailand’s working groups as an advisor for education. She has written articles for educational publications and served as a team member in the European Council for International Schools Accreditation process. She is currently studying for her Doctorate in Education.

Presentation: Mary Ann Hagan, Education Scotland

Useful resources:

The Attainment Challenge: North Lanarkshire

Engaging parents and families: A toolkit for practitioners

Health and wellbeing

Making the links ... making it work

Learning from around the country presenters:


Presentation: Molly Page, Patricia Santelices and Lucy Henderson (City of Edinburgh Council)

Useful links:

1 in 5 Report

Top tips for schools 

I in 5 training overview


Presentation: Marion Fairweather (Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland)

Useful links:

The Cost of the School Day Report and Executive Summary

Cost of the School Holidays report

Dumfries and Galloway

Presentation:Gillian Brydson and Maureen Smith (Dumfries and Galloway Council)


Presentation: Julie Paterson (Renfrewshire Council)

Contact information:

If there is anything you want to discuss or to put you in touch with anyone from the event please email: