9 November 2023
The cost of living crisis is currently having a huge impact on families in Wales. Public Health Wales data shows that 80% of residents are ‘very worried’ or ‘somewhat worried’ about the cost of living for winter 2023, with a quarter of respondents saying that rising costs were causing them substantial stress and anxiety. So if you’re feeling this way, please know that you’re not alone.
Yet while it’s affecting the mental health of adults across the country, it’s also negatively impacting our children’s education. For example, in November 2022, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales reported lower attendance rates for pupils who are eligible for free school meals – 6.2% lower compared to those who are not. LHS data also shows that our more vulnerable students and those with the farthest distance to travel have lower attendance rates than their peers. The most common reason given for absence from school is sickness. But feedback from parents and pupils at Llanishen High School tells us that the reality is bleaker. Travel costs, uniforms, equipment, school trips and other expenses are all playing a part in these absences. With rising inflation, sending children to school is getting harder every day for many.
We understand how challenging and worrying this can be as a parent. Absence from school can have a significant impact on children, affecting their mental wellbeing and also how well they can keep up with their school work, with evidence showing that pupils who have the highest levels of attendance perform better at GCSE and A Level.
But we’re not saying any of this to pass judgement – we want to do the opposite. From a place of empathy and understanding, we want to help ensure that education is still accessible for families who are struggling during this time. It’s why we’ve launched our Access to Education initiative which supports pupils with a variety of challenges.
From a 4pm bus to enable after-school club attendance, to free food packages available from our Wellbeing Centre at the end of the school day, or our second-hand uniform store to provide more affordable options, and also free period products, amongst other things. We’ve taken into consideration the needs of our pupils and parents when creating this initiative, but we always value feedback from our community. So please do let us know if there’s anything else you think we can do.
You can find a full breakdown of our Access to Education initiative now on our website. Click here for more information >>>
We are here to help, and if you need any additional information or support during this time, please get in touch with our teaching team.