Created on: 22 Dec 2023
The EIS is calling on government, local authorities, and all relevant agencies to do all that they can to reduce the impact of poverty on young people, their education and their life chances.
With around one child in four living in poverty in Scotland, the impact on their lives is huge all year round – but is particularly acute during the festive season.
Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, "The festive season is a time when many of us get together with family and friends, to enjoy each other's company and to celebrate the things that are important to us, often eating together and exchanging gifts.
"Sadly, for many young people across Scotland, the festive season often serves to highlight the extremely challenging circumstances in which they live. With one-quarter of children in Scotland living in poverty, the realities of holiday hunger and winter fuel-poverty are all too acute during the festive season for thousands of young people across the country.
"Not only will many children not receive a Christmas gift, but they will be asking where their next meal will come from."
Ms Bradley continued, "The potential loss of access to free school meals during the holiday period is a serious issue for many young people. While some national funding has been provided to help enable local authorities to make arrangements for free meal provision during holiday periods, many young people fall outwith the free meal entitlement but still face challenges associated with the high cost of living so have no help available at all.
"This highlights the importance of implementing universal free school meals for all pupils, so that all young people can have access to healthy and nutritious meals throughout the school week and during holiday periods."
Ms Bradley added, "Recent Scottish Government publications have highlighted the continuing impact of poverty on educational achievement and attainment, with the poverty-related attainment gap persisting across the country.
"Poverty has a massive impact on young people’s educational opportunities, as well as on their health and wellbeing and life prospects. It is absolutely essential that all layers of government – at UK, Scottish and local level – do all that they can to make policy decisions that prevent poverty in the first place and to support the hundreds of thousands of young people and their families facing challenges associated with poverty right now.
"The political will to end poverty in Scotland – and the wider UK - is the best gift that politicians of all stripes could give this Christmas time."
Audio Clip: EIS General Secretary, Andrea Bradley