Poorer pupils forced to drop arts subjects due to the costs of studying


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The Independent Online

Pupils in state schools are having to ditch arts subjects at GCSE because they can no longer afford the cost of studying for them, a second report on the impact of poverty in the classroom has said.

The study of 400 young people says more than one in four pupils on free school meals (27 per cent) have had to ditch subjects  like art, music, photography and textiles because of the cost of equipment. Amongst other  children from low income families, one in seven said they were choosing their study options on the basis of cost.

"Subjects that require extra materials, especially art, photography, textiles, design and technology, were frequently cited as subjects that free school meals children felt they were unable to take," says the report.

Those from poor families that did often ended up with lower grades because they had inferior equipment, it went on.

Children from poorer families were also less likely to be able to afford to go to after-school activities or clubs ,largely as a result of transport cost.

"I really wanted to play tennis at my school but it was £90 for the lesson," said one young person. 

The survey, carried out for the National Union of Teachers, the Child Poverty Action Group, the British Youth Council and Kids Company, also revealed 57 per cent of children from low income families were missing out on school trips. Even 28 per cent of those from better-off homes said they had missed at least one school trip a term because of the cost.

In addition, one in three children entitled to free school meals (35 per cent) said their families could not afford the full set of the school uniform, and one in five (21 per cent) reported not having the full set of books necessary for their studies.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of the CPAG, said: "Poor children are being denied equal access to education with many now missing out on their choice of school subjects, school trips and finding school uniforms prohibitively expensive."

Camila Batmanghelidjh, of Kids Company, added: "No child in Britain should go to school hungry and be denied access to learning. If they are the political system is failing them."

Meanwhile, in his NASUWT presidential address, Mr Branner warned that the "punitive" inspection and league table accountability regime had robbed education of its "moral purpose".

"Really, education is about more than just gaining five A* to C grade passes at GCSE including maths and English," he said.

It should not ignore "the vital work that schools do to give our students the confidence and the tools by which they can become of their own life story".