The Cost of the School Day project

Cost of the school day project logoInspired by a programme developed in North East England , in 2014 the Cost of the School Day (COSD) was set up in Glasgow city to identify cost barriers that prevent some children from taking part in school experiences and the actions that can be taken to address them. Hosted by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, COSD works in partnership with Glasgow city’s Education Services, Health and Social Care Partnership and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. 

A national evaluation of the Cost of the School Day programme published in 2020, shows how schools and local authorities can tackle poverty and contribute to equity in education.

Schools, poverty and health infographic - for an accessible version or a transcript please email This evaluation is a result of partnership work between NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Government, Dundee City Council and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. For more details and relevant resources, see the Child Poverty Action Group website.  You can also access an NHS Health Scotland briefing on how poverty affects educational attainment.

Download the infographic as a PDF.

A COSD study report into the roll out of the project across eight schools in the city identified potentially stigmatising barriers, such as: school uniforms; bus fares; cost of after-school clubs and study; school trips; and families not having resources at home, such as computers and internet access, to help children study. The report identified suggested actions and learning resources were made available on the CPAG in Scotland website.

Our briefing paper, published as part of Challenge Poverty Week in 2016, continued to share the project’s learning and other evidence more widely. In particular, the local authority variation in school clothing grants, which ranged from £20 to £110 with an average payment of £50.

In early 2018, the Scottish Government announced that an estimated 120,000 families would benefit from a new £100 national minimum school clothing grant, introduced  as a result of partnership working with Scotland’s Local Authorities.

There has been growing interest in COSD across Scotland with CPAG providing advice and support to other local authorities. In 2017, Dundee City working with CPAG secured funding to deliver COSD with staff, pupils and parents from 15 schools and nurseries. 

Building on this local work, NHS Health Scotland and CPAG in Scotland launched two new resources to raise awareness, prompt discussion and take action to combat child poverty in schools:

  • A short COSD film captured the views of teachers, parent councils and others on the impacts of poverty on school life and barriers to participation
  • A COSD toolkit designed by CPAG Scotland to support action to reduce financial barriers to participation at school for children from low income households.

The CSD project continues to influence other areas of work. A sister project, the Cost of the School Holidays explored the realities of the holiday period for low-income families in Glasgow and what can be done to better meet their needs.  

Read more in this blog from Sara Spencer, Manager of the COSD project.

Related topic: Money and work