How poverty impacts on learning: biggest ever survey with pupils in Scotland

In the biggest survey ever done with young people to find out your views on poverty and education in Scotland, almost 1,000 of you gave a clear message: lack of money puts up barriers to learning that hold pupils back, prevent you from having a fair chance at school and affect your life chances in the future.

The issues

Talking about how the stress of living in poverty can make it hard to do well at school unless you get the right support, one young person said “It’s like the way you grow up that makes you want to learn, or what kind of person you are as well. So [if] you’re growing up, like, in an environment where everybody helps you and that, like supports you and that, then you’re going to have a good future. But if you don’t then it’s not really going to be a good future”.

The secondary pupils from across Scotland who took part in this research by SCCYP and Save the Children talked about how not having enough money made it hard to get a range of basic things needed for learning. One pupil said “School uniform, getting food, going places with friends, money, finding a good house to live –you need a good house to keep you warm. Getting food and water, paying the bills, to be able to go out and spend lots of money and buy things that you want. But basics like housing, they are maybe too dear. Pens, pencils and paper.”

The expense of school uniform was a big deal for a lot of you: “For single parents as well, because my ma’s like, just a single parent. And like it’s hard because I have got my big sister, my wee brother and she has to pay for all of yous [to get uniform]”.

Young people affected by poverty also talked about having to do without other important things that help with learning, like going on school trips, or being able to buy textbooks or equipment needed to take part in design and technology classes or home economics or music lessons. Not having a computer at home to use for homework was also a common issue, as was not getting enough support with home study – especially in families where the parents had jobs where they worked long hours or because they had not had good learning chances themselves as kids. Looking ahead to the future, half of the pupils surveyed thought that not having much money did impact on whether young people went on to further study or training after leaving school.

Support that helps

In the research, young people had lots to say about the support that can help pupils whose learning is affected by poverty. Classroom teachers, guidance teachers, learning support teachers and home-school link workers were all mentioned as people that were really important in supporting pupils to do well at school and in the future: “Like your teachers and, like, your guidey. Because, like at the end of the day they’re the ones that can help you get a job. They’re the ones that gives you a good reference when you leave here.”

As well teachers, young people talked about other forms of school support that they found helpful, like homework and study clubs in lunch breaks and after school; help with buying school uniforms for parents on benefits; counselling; free school lunches; financial help to go on school trips; resources for dyslexia and other support needs; free out-of-school activities; more support for parents so they can help with homework; and school libraries with internet access.


You can view the full report, Learning Lessons: Young People’s Views on Poverty and Education in Scotland, here. Congrats to the 885 pupils who did the survey, the 64 of you who took part in focus-groups, and of course the six young people from Save the Children’s Young Leaders programme who did the research with the focus groups.



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Young carers in Glasgow have their say: “My friends don’t understand or don’t know the situation at home.”

Did you know? The Carers Trust reckons that there are about 100,000 young carers living in Scotland. That’s 100,000 young people who care for someone at home by taking on practical and/or emotional caring that would normally be done by an adult. It might be that their family member is disabled or has a long term health issue, or that they struggle with mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems. Whatever the reason they need support, young carers play an amazing role in helping their family.

Enquire recently did a workshop with an awesome bunch of young carers who are supported by the West Glasgow Carers Centre. They shared some really interesting and important views and ideas about the stuff that makes school hard for young carers and the support that helps. Here are just some of the things they said:

Issues for young carers with school


  • “I don’t have enough time to study while caring for someone at home”.
  • “A young carer might be worrying about the person they are caring for while trying to study”.
  • “I might be off school because of young caring. Might not understand  the work due to lack of attendance.”


  • “Might not be able to afford school trips or school lunches or the uniform”.
  • “People might not like young carers because of their clothes and shoes – they might have to walk about with old clothes (might get bullying because of it)”.
  • “We don’t have enough time to go out and buy stuff’.


  • “Not enough time to spend with friends due to caring”.”Might feel worried about leaving the person they care for at home. Might feel left out if can’t go”.
  • “My friends don’t understand or don’t know the situation at home. They might be embarrassed or find it hard to talk to me (if they knew)”.


  • “Might make young carers feel stressed – might result in taking drugs and alcohol”.
  • “Might not want to go to school – might feel different, depressed or anxious”.
  • “I’m too busy to talk to someone about it (the bullying)”.

What can help young carers have a better time at school?

  • ‘Money for equipment and school trips”
  • “Emotional help”
  • “Extra time for homework (and less work!)”
  • “Teacher tutoring so that if you miss a class they help you catch up”
  • “A ‘time out’ pass –  Getting time off school, or access to a quiet place to chill”
  • “Young carer awareness assembly”
  • “Getting home schooled instead”
  • “Help managing stress and with time keeping – flexible times and dates”
  • “Young carer support worker should always be in school for support”

A big thank you to all the young carers who shared their views with Enquire.

For advice and info check out YC.Net

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Hillpark school buddies win Autism Champions award

Big congratulations to the pupils at Hillpark Secondary School in Glasgow, who Autism Network Scotland have given their Autism Champions Award to.

Pupils in 5th and 6th year have got the award for being buddies to younger pupils who get support from Hillpark school’s autism unit. The buddies have been helping pupils with autism in lots of ways, as this young person explains: “The buddies helped me well with social skills. Classes were better when they were there because it was much more fun and they understood the kind of difficulties I had when I came to secondary school. The buddies can explain how the school works and how to get on with people. I would like to be a buddy when I am older because I like helping people and the buddies certainly helped me. It is good to have older friends in the school because it helped me to feel more part of the school when I first came here.”

To become buddies, the prize-winning pupils took part in training to learn about autism and think about how they could relate to this in areas like feeling shy and finding it hard to make friends or be organised. This helped the buddies to see that people with autism are just like them in many ways, and that you can’t put them in a box and make judgements because everyone is different. The buddies also learnt about how pupils with autism might be feeling about issues at school like bullying, mis-use of social media, and finding it hard to make friends, which has helped them understand better how they can help.

It’s clear that the buddies have got a lot out of their friendships with pupils with autism. One buddy Christina said: “Being a buddy has given me so much insight into what being on the autism spectrum means and has given me the chance and become more knowledgeable and understanding of and encouraging to others I will meet in my life beyond school.”

You can find out more about the autism buddy project at Hillpark here.

Hillpark school have got a website too.

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Mental Health Awareness Week – Coping with anxiety

This year Mental Health Awareness Week is looking at worries and anxiety. For those of you who are getting ready to change schools or leave school, and for all of you doing exams, you might not be a stranger to these feelings. Feeling anxious at times of stress and change is normal, but if it goes on for ages and stops you taking part in things you like doing, it can be really hard to cope. If this is you, know that there is help out there. Check out childline’s online advice about coping with anxiety and suggestions for people who might help.

The Place2Be is one fab example of a service that is making a difference to thousands of pupils in helping them cope with difficult feelings and tough stuff going on in their lives. Enquire have been fans of the Place2Be for a long time – check out this blog we did after spending a day with pupils at Canal View Primary in Wester Hailes: “Without the Placw2Be we would be a more worried school”.

I really love this animation film that the Place2Be have made, in which children talk about how talking to their counsellor and doing play and art therapy has helped them cope with difficult feelings they have had.

Last but not least, you might like to support this campaign, Speak up for Kids, which aims to raise awareness about why it’s so important for children and young people to get the care they need for their emotional well being and challenges some of the things that make it hard to get support, like because of stigma about having mental health issues.



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MSYP has her say: How money issues affect young carers’ chances to get the most out of their education


This week on the blog, a young carer called Lauren King who is part of the Scottish Youth Parliament talks about their campaign Care.Fair.Share. This is a campaign about helping make sure that issues with money don’t stop young carers getting the most out of school and being able to carry on their studies at college and university.

What do you do at the Scottish Youth Parliament? As MSYP for Motherwell and Wishaw, I am proud to speak up for young people and to have been a part of some very big moments which have shaped the future of our society, such as making equal marriage legal and votes at 16.

Why did you want to become an MSYP? I became an MSYP to make sure that young people have a voice and so that the young people from Motherwell and Wishaw have a say in decision making.

What is the Care.Fair.Share campaign about? There is a growing 100,000 strong army of young carers in Scotland – not to mention the young people who don’t identify themselves as being carers. These selfless children and young people do an amazing job, day in and day out to give support and care to their loved ones.

The Scottish Youth Parliament says that carers save the Scottish Government more than £10 billion every year through providing unpaid care. That is about the same as the total cost of the NHS in Scotland! And yet young carers often struggle with money. They have enough to worry about; they don’t need money issues as well.

What are SYP hoping to get out of the campaign? By getting as much support as possible, we can improve the lives of Scotland’s young carers. The campaign is looking at some of the key money issues for young carers, including: looking at who does and doesn’t get access to funding such as Educational Maintenance Allowance; more financial help for young carers struggling to afford further education; and ways to lessen the cost of travel for young carers to and from school and college.

Why do you think the campaign is important? This campaign is very close to my heart. As a young carer, I know first-hand how hard it is to care, be in education and hold down a job. It is stressful, and for many young carers it is almost impossible to do all three. I was very lucky as a young carer because my mum supported me through everything. I became an MSYP, finished school, got into university and got a job, from all of which I did things I could have only dreamt about! These chances have been life changing for me. However, I know that in reality many other young carers do not have these chances.

This only makes me want to work even harder to stand up for this cause and make sure that a real difference is made to young carers. By helping young carers with the issues they have with money in education, I really believe their lives will get better in many different ways!

How can other people support the campaign? There is still lots to do. We need your support to be able to bring about lasting change for Scotland’s young carers.

Find out how you can support the Care.Fair.Share. campaign by checking out the SYP website here.

There’s a cool youtube video about the campaign too.





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Joint creativity – art by young people with arthritis

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Arthritis is a health condition where you suffer from pain in your joints and can have trouble moving about, doing sports and even sleeping. You might think that arthritis is a condition that only old people get. But there are actually … Continue reading

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Letterbox Club: looked after? You could get a surprise parcel of cool books and games in the post :)

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  If you’re looked after (also called being in care), aged 7-13 years, and you live in Scotland, then there might be a fun package winging it’s way to you in the post soon Because the Letterbox Club has come to … Continue reading

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BeXcellent website made by and for young people: “Skills for being awesome”

Hip hip hooray the fab new website BeXcellent has been launched! It’s a great way to make sense of what Curriculum for Excellence is all about – helping you have excellent learning both in and out of school so you can have totally excellent lives.

The new website has been created by a team of young people from 8 to 17 years who all have an interest in design, IT, photography, film making and journalism. So what’s Curriculum for Excellence all about? Ellen, one of the young folk involved, explains:

“Even adults get nervous when they hear the words ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ in case you ask them to tell you what it means. Curriculum for Excellence is basically a different way of saying ‘Skills for being awesome’. It’s all about being a successful learner, effective contributor, a confident individual and a responsible citizen. Not exactly rocket science. It hasn’t actually changed what we’re taught. Simply, how we’re taught it.”

Another young team member called Dervla also had an interesting take on what the new curriculum is all about: “The project was created on the belief that everything worth knowing can’t always be taught. Children don’t just learn from reading books or watching low budget videos – they can learn from exploring or figuring things out for themselves.”

The website is an awesome achievement for the youth team, who have so far spent over 4 months pulling it all together. They really took charge of everything, even the budget -  “We were trusted with a budget of £10,000″, Ellen explains. “A bit more than the average pocket money. Already on our way to becoming responsible citizens.”

Dervla told Enquire all about what was involved in creating the website and what’s on it: “Three groups were drawn up: a writing group, a film group and a graphics group…These groups with the help of various mentors and leaders were able to create something that could aid children in discovering what exactly they are doing in school and where to go once they are finished. The website also helps children talk about their situation and allows them to share their opinions with others their age. BeXcellent allows children and teenagers to express themselves by way of reviewing shows or books or even talking about their fears about a transition in their life.”

You can check out the new BeXcellent website here.



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Better eating, better learning: Pupils’ views on school food

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Eating well during the school day can really help you to do your best at school. But when chips and chocolate are so easy to get hold of, what’s the best way of supporting pupils to choose healthy foods at … Continue reading

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New SYP campaign for young carers: Care. Fair. Share.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 10 young people are involved in helping to care for someone at home.
  • 13,000  young carers in the UK care for over 50 hours a week.
  • Young adult carers aged 16 to 18 years are twice as likely to be not in education, employment, or training.

In recent years Enquire have been raising awareness about some of the challenges that young carers face trying to keep up with their learning – young carers in the Highlands created an awesome drama for us which was shown at our conference a few years ago, and we’ve also covered the issues on our blog a few times, like in this interview we did with West Lothian young carers. We also recently launched our guide What happens when you can’t go to school?, which includes info on support for young carers who are having to miss school because they are too busy caring for their loved one. 

So we are delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament have chosen to highlight education issues for young carers this year in their Care. Fair. Share. campaign. They’ve made an ace film about the campaign which is well worth a watch.


The film looks at how young carers who are studying often find it hard to juggle their caring role with their studies. This doesn’t just happen at school, but at college and university too: the National Union of Students reckons that 56% of students with a caring role seriously consider leaving their course because they are finding it too hard to keep up with studies.

The film also looks at issues that young carers have with lack of money. Young carers have told Enquire that money issues can make it hard to take part in school trips and buy school uniform and books. The SYP campaigners are also saying that lack of money can make it hard to travel in between school and home so you can fulfil your caring role, and that more funding should be available to young carers to make it easier for them to continue with studies at college and university.

The Scottish Youth Parliament is “a little bit about politics, and a lot about you”. To find out more and how you can support the campaign visit the Care. Fair. Share website.

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