Children playing on playground at school

School cost support for families

The Scottish Government, as part of the announcements surrounding the 2023-24 budget, has announced that a range of measures are to be implemented with the aim of helping children, parents and carers with costs surrounding schooling.

A total amount of £4.85 million worth of funding has been allocated as part of the Scottish Government’s plans for spending in 2023 and 2024, with a considerable amount of provision for spending on measures to support people through the cost of living crisis.

Free school meals are to be expanded through new investment, with primary six and seven pupils that are in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment. This is part of the government’s wider goal to delivery universal free school meals in Scottish primary schools.

Alongside the provision for free school meals in primary schools, there is also increased investment of £22 million to continue to provide meals during the school holiday, to children who are in need of them the most. £50 million is also being set aside to continue to support the Whole Family Wellbeing programme, with this being a cornerstone of the promise to support families as they begin to thrive.

The full measures that are aiming to reduce the cost of schooling include:

  • Providing more than £13 million to uprate the School Clothing Grant in line with inflation.
  • Investing an additional £16 million resource and £80 million capital to fund the expansion of Free School Meals for all Primary 6 and 7 pupils in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment, as the next step in fulfilling the commitment to universal provision in primary schools.
  • Continuing to invest £22 million to provide meals during school holidays to the children who need them most.
  • Maintaining subsidy arrangements for the provision of milk and working with partners on a phased approach to the delivery off a universal milk scheme, aligned to the expansion of free school meals.
  • Investing £20 million towards the commitment to ensure every school-aged child, over the lifetime of the parliament, has access to a digital device to support their learning.
  • Investment of nearly £2 billion towards Scotland’s universities and colleges to support delivery of high-quality education and training. This includes a cash increase of £20 million in the Higher Education resource budget compared to 2022-23, and a cash increase of £33.7 million in the Further Education resource and capital budget.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Education Secretary, said:

“I am committed to improving the life chances of all Scotland’s children, young people and learners. The measures set out in this spending plans are driven by our ambition to enable everybody to reach their full potential.

“We know the toll that the cost of living crisis has taken on families and households across Scotland and investment is being made in a range of important measures which will help mitigate the impact of this.

“The expansion of free school meals in primary schools continues, providing a benefit in kind of around £400 per child for families, while the ongoing investment in the school clothing grant and access to digital devices will help those who need it most.

“Our ongoing commitment to free university tuition means that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, Scottish domiciled students do not incur additional debt of up to £27,750 and average student loan debt in Scotland remains the lowest in the UK.

“In Scotland we have the most teacher-per-pupil, along with the highest per-pupil education spend anywhere in the UK. We will continue to provide local authorities with funding of £145,5 million per year to support the teaching workforce, as part of the overall local government settlement of £13.22 billion.

“Our commitment to closing the poverty related-attainment gap remains paramount and that is why we will invest a further £200 million next year in the Scottish Attainment Challenge – as part of our £1 billion commitment in this Parliament.”


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