Parents in Dundee are having to pay £3 a day instead of 25p to put their children in private breakfast clubs – because of a lack of spaces at their school clubs.
The Child Poverty Action Group this week published its Cost of the School Day report for the city, which examines the financial pressures facing families and children.
It found staff-to-pupil ratios at some schools, as well as a lack of physical space, meant there weren’t always enough breakfast club places and schools are unable to help families in need.
As a result, parents are paying £3 a day for private breakfast clubs when the primary schools charge just 25p.
It means some families are forking out as much as £60 a month on morning groups, when they could be paying £5.
Parents agreed the cost of feeding their children, as well as other expenses associated with school, was an issue.
Cheryl Smart (pictured above), a mother-of-two from Ardler, said: “I’m about £40 a week for a packed lunch and snacks and there could be mums that can’t afford that.
“Every mum gets £100 from Dundee City Council for their kid’s clothes but what if you’ve got more than one kid?
“I think children whose parents can’t afford breakfasts should be a priority. Sometimes a child’s only hot meal is at school.”
She added that schools should help out during winter so that parents can provide warm coats and clothes for their children.
Another mother who used the breakfast club for her sons said: “I was lucky enough to get a space for my two boys. I think it’s important that they find a bigger space so that it is equal for everyone. I had to put my boys’ names down six months prior to me starting college. I think they need more space to help out more parents.”
Among some of the other concerns for families was the cost of school uniform, while some students reported finding it difficult to complete homework as they don’t have a computer and teachers did not accept handwritten work.
Dundee City Council previously announced several measures ahead of the publication of the report, including raising the school clothing grant to £100.
Children and family services convener Stewart Hunter said: “All our schools that run breakfast clubs are only able to take a set amount of children.
“Unfortunately, demand for the service is greater than what we can deliver and that is why we have waiting lists.
“It is not ideal that parents have to look at private breakfast clubs and have to pay much higher costs than what we can offer in school breakfast clubs.
“The whole point of the cost of the school day report is to look at issues such as this and see how we can support parents.
“Breakfast clubs are just one example but there are others.
“We recognise we are not going to achieve our ambitions for our young people if we don’t look at the cost of the school day.
“This report is just the starting point of collating what all the issues are and what the stumbling blocks are.
“The challenge ahead is how we can deliver all these changes.
“All the staff in all our schools have always gone the extra mile to ensure that no child misses out.
“I am proud of what the staff have done and the administration group are determined to put measures in place to support young people and their families.”