Costs mean pupils may be ‘missing out’

Class divide: Blackpool has thousands of families struggling with school costs, below, Coun Ivan Taylor
Class divide: Blackpool has thousands of families struggling with school costs, below, Coun Ivan Taylor
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More than half of families with children in Blackpool are struggling to cover the cost of sending them to school, a new report has warned.

The Children’s Commission on Poverty found parents in the resort spend £13.6m a year on school essentials such uniforms, books and food – an average of £807 per family.

Class divide: Blackpool has thousands of families struggling with school costs, below, Coun Ivan Taylor

Class divide: Blackpool has thousands of families struggling with school costs, below, Coun Ivan Taylor

It also warned more than 9,000 families – 55 per cent –are finding it difficult to afford these costs.

The report warns children are missing opportunities as a result and many feel embarrassed because their parents cannot afford to send them on school trips.

Rob Jackson, from The Children’s Society, which supported the research, said: “Children are supposed to be benefiting equally from a free education.

“Yet the reality is that families in the North West are paying millions of pounds each year towards the cost of school.

Children are being penalised and denied their right to an equal education simply because their parents cannot afford the basics. This is just not right.

“The Government needs to listen to this crucial report by young commissioners and act to make sure no child is stopped from getting an education equal to their peers.

“It must stop children from being made to suffer because they are living in poverty.”

Coun Ivan Taylor, Blackpool’s cabinet member for children’s services at Blackpool Council, said: “A very valid point has been raised here. It is something we are going to have to look at.

“There are more and more people living in poverty – this is a tipping issue in Blackpool.

“We are doing as much as we can and have introduced the free school meals for primary children. However, I do think there is an issue around the cost of school clothing.

“We don’t want children to be disadvantaged or to stand out in any way.

“We need to help these families in any way we can.”