Primary school communities have their say on the ‘cost of the school day’
An innovative Midlothian project, aimed at reducing the disadvantage poorer families experience in meeting the cost of the school day, has seen high levels of participation from children, their families, parent council members and school staff.
Carried out in 2018/19 with support from Scottish Government Community Choices and Midlothian Council funding, the project used Participatory Budgeting to give local people a say. This involved working with eleven primary schools in the council’s three priority areas – Mayfield and Easthouses, Woodburn and Gorebridge. Projects were developed by children aged 8 to 12, parent council representatives and teaching staff.
The projects were promoted through parents’ night events, school assemblies, staff briefings, school newsletters, text messaging and social media. Decision-making events were also held on parents’ evenings and at school events such as sports days and concerts.
Across the eleven school communities, a total of 2639 people voted with £72,999 allocated to projects that are having a positive impact on the lives of young people and their families. Examples include iron-on badges for school jumpers, free sports kits, a subsidised homework club, a healthy breakfast club, free fruit, and free uniform starter packs.
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for communities, Councillor Russell Imrie, said: “This innovative programme saw high levels of involvement from school children, their families, carers, parent councils and school staff. Using their experience and knowledge, they helped put together a fantastic range of worthwhile projects. In doing so, they had a direct impact on the way money is being spent, helping reduce the disadvantage poorer families face in meeting the cost of the school day.”
This article has been produced in support of Challenge Poverty Week, 7 to 13 October 2019.