Labour will invest hundreds of millions of pounds in “poverty proofing” schools.
The Party’s announcement comes 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, Labour plans to:
• Expand 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.
• Extend 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.
• Cap 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.
• Introduce 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.
• Restore and increase 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.”