Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The social price our children will pay

As public spending cuts loom and the news present us with huge quantities of information about the impact of those cuts I am convinced that our children will be seriously affected.

According to the Scottish Government 21 % of children in Scotland live in poverty. As the Coalition Government forges ahead on an ideological stand to reduce the deficit at record-breaking speed, services will get cut, people will be made redundant and many more children will face life within a jobless household.

Neither children nor the unemployed pay taxes, but a social price will be paid by both; for children this will be at school. Not all children arrive on an equal standing to primary school. Poverty breeds educational under-achievement. Scotland is understandably proud of its educational system but influential studies have noted the chronic under-achievement of children from the poorest families. Children from more advantaged households significantly outperform children from less advantaged homes and the gap increases as they grow up. There is a national commitment through the Child Poverty Act 2010 to eradicate child poverty by 2020. Will this commitment be scrapped as a result of the cuts?

The Church of Scotland has had a long commitment towards eliminating child poverty in Scotland and is in full support of The Better Odds at School campaign to be launched today by Save the Children. The campaign proposes to address the under-achievement gap by investing in extra resources for schools to support children in poverty. These resources are not called for in isolation, but as part of a strategy that targets under-achievement from early years onwards and that recognises the need to support parents in helping their children achieve their full educational potential. We need campaigns and actions like these to prevent our children from becoming collateral damage of the spending review.

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