Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will announce today (Thursday) that Labour will invest hundreds of millions of pounds in “poverty proofing” schools.
The Party’s announcements come as recent research from the Resolution Foundation think tank found that if the Conservative manifesto were implemented, child poverty would rise to a sixty year high.
To tackle growing child poverty, and ensure that it has no impact on schools, Angela Rayner is announcing:
Expanding the provision of free, healthy breakfasts to all primary schools, and a pilot of the same policy in secondary schools. Investing in healthy, free school breakfasts for primary school children is a proven way to improve educational outcomes, child health, and save money for families.
Extending free school meals at secondary school to every child whose family is in receipt of Universal Credit. Expanding free school meal eligibility to all children in receipt of Universal Credit will help tens of thousands of children in families with low incomes to get a hot meal at school every day.
Capping the cost of school uniforms and restoring grants to help disadvantaged families with costs of uniform and equipment. The Children’s Society have said that a million children have parents who were pushed in to debt due to school uniform costs. The Conservatives first pledged to regulate costs in November 2015 but have failed to bring forward legislation to do so.
Introducing a new programme of extended schools, both in the evenings and the summer holidays, ensuring all children have access to extra sport and healthy meals even outside schools.
Not just restoring but increasing the Education Maintenance Allowance to £35 a week for disadvantaged teenagers in further education.
The Party has also announced it will reverse cuts to the Pupil Premium, and immediately uplift it to provide a cash boost to schools with the most disadvantaged intakes. Labour has previously committed to the introduction of universal free school meals in primary schools.
Commenting, Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
“Rising child poverty under the Tories is an absolute scandal, and it is a disgrace that their plans will push it to a 60 year high if they win this election.
“Labour will tackle child poverty while driving up standards in schools by providing extra support to the children who need it most.
“Labour will invest in both our schools and the children in them, to transform the life chances of a generation being failed by the Tories.”
- Since the Conservatives came to office the number of children living in poverty has increased to 4.1 million, from 3.6 million in 2010/11, an increase of 500,000, or 14%.
Department for Work and Pensions, Households below average income: 1994/5 to 2017/18
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/households-below-average-income-199495-to-201718, Main Tables, Table 4b.
- The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has previously forecast that child poverty would rise to 2020.
Given that the most recent government data is for 2017/18, actual child poverty is likely to be higher.
Institute for Fiscal Studies, Child and Working-Age Poverty from 2010 to 2020
- The independent Resolution Foundation has found that if the Conservative manifesto were implemented child poverty would rise to a sixty year high.
- The Children’s Society have found that there are a million children with parents who were pushed in to debt by the cost of school uniforms.
The Children’s Society, School uniform costs force families into debt, https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/school-uniform-costs-force-families-into-debt
- Analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that there are significant benefits to providing a free school breakfast in primary schools.
“Year 2 children whose schools were offered support to open a breakfast club made the equivalent of two months’ additional progress in reading, writing, and maths over the course of a yea compared with students in the control group of schools.”
- Analysis of a free school breakfast programme being run in Blackpool found that children who attended school breakfasts consumed significantly more healthy items, and that the breakfast club could reduce inequalities in child nutrition.
- The independent Education Policy Institute have previously found that the Conservatives’ plans to “level up” school funding will disproportionately benefit affluent pupils
“Overall, the average pupil eligible for free school meals would attract an additional £56 under this proposal, while the average pupil not eligible for free school meals would attract an additional £116.”
“All but 12 of England’s 163 grammar schools would benefit under this proposal, at an average of over £130,000 each to their total budgets.”
- Schools in previous pilots of extended schools have said that offering the additional services were effective in raising educational outcomes.
- Research by UCL found that attending out of school activities, which would be offered by extended schools, has a positive impact on academic attainment.
“Disadvantaged children who take part in after school clubs during primary school have higher KS2 results than those who do not, and higher KS2 results than predicted based on their KS1 results and other background characteristics and circumstances.”
- Being eligible for and claiming free school meals will save a family £437 per child.
House of Commons Library, School meals and nutritional standards (England)
- The Government’s changes to free school meal eligibility for children in families receiving Universal Credit, which introduces an income threshold of £7,400, creates a cliff edge that could make around 125,000 families, with over 290,000 children, worse off.
- Labour previously attempted to block these changes, which would leave some children in families receiving Universal Credit ineligible for free school meals in the longer term.
- A previous analysis has found that a pilot of universal free school meals has a “significant positive impact on attainment for primary school pupils at Key Stages 1 and 2, with pupils in the pilot areas making between four and eight weeks’ more progress than similar pupils in comparison areas.”
- Research by Labour’s Lisa Forbes earlier this year found that the 'school uniform grant', though technically a national scheme, is now entirely unavailable in over 80% of local authority areas, and has been drastically cut back even where it is still provided.
- These commitments are funded out of the £5.5 billion increase to schools funding above baseline outlined in Labour’s fully costed manifesto, and the accompanying document Funding Real Change