Almost half of children missing out on learning outside of school due to cost-of-living pressures

Rampant prices and cost of living pressures have led to nearly half of children missing out on trips and outings outside of school, with parents also unable to able to afford educational resources and extra-curricular activities. 

The findings come from a survey of 2,000 parents across Great Britain, conducted by Campaign for Learning, part of the educational charity NCFE, and pollsters YouGov.

Nearly half of parents (45%) stated they haven’t been able to afford trips and outings outside of school for their children, with this rising to 57% among working class communities. Nearly one third of families have had to cut back on extra-curricular activities for their child (32%), with 29% also unable to buy new educational resources to use at home. 

While the leading barrier to parents in affording additional enrichment opportunities for their children was the cost of activities (57%), this was followed by the cost of travel (38%), and availability in their local area (33%).  

These findings come as Campaign for Learning launch the National Centre for Family Learning, calling for government to unify parental engagement and family learning policy, placing families at the heart of education and skills.

The National Centre for Family Learning is a free association for professionals who work with parents and families. The Centre has been created to facilitate sector-wide collaborative working amongst local authorities, family hubs, charities, museums, galleries and more. 

By sharing best practice and professional development opportunities, they hope to ensure parents can access vital educational and enrichment opportunities for their child’s social and cultural development.  

Through this, they’ve heard first-hand accounts of how the rising cost of living is having a profound impact on children’s development. One of these parents, Azra, a mum of two from Rochdale, described how she now has to think twice before buying things for either of her children. 

Azra, whose children are aged three and five, described the cost of “everything you could possibly think of” continuing to increase; from books to school shirts and new sports pumps for school – leading to her son missing out on PE class. 

She explained: “The teacher said, unfortunately, he’s going to have to sit out. That means that he's missing out on his PE session, so he’s not getting his exercise, but that wasn't his fault. It’s awful.”

Parents such as Azra have described the ways the cost-of-living crisis is impacting every aspect of their child’s life. As the research has shown, parents believe their children are increasingly aware and worried about cost of living constraints (26%). 

Speaking with the National Centre for Family Learning, Azra explained: “In this past year, I think they understand. My husband’s sister came around the other day and [my son] said ‘could you buy me a toy? Mummy hasn’t got that many pennies anymore.’ I was so embarrassed.”

The research was conducted to understand the harsh realities that families across Great Britain are facing. The National Centre for Family Learning aims to increase access to crucial life experiences for young people and help struggling families understand the options which are available to them. 

The National Centre for Family Learning was launched by Campaign for Learning at a parliamentary event on 1 March, celebrating the creation of this network of professionals. The new association, which aims to recruit 5,000 members, will tackle unequal access to high-quality provision across the country. 

John Beattie, Deputy Director for Families at Campaign for Learning, said: 

“It is incredibly disconcerting to hear about the number of children missing out on core learning and development experiences due to the rise of cost of living. More needs to be done to create access to these experiences for families and to raise awareness of support available to them. 

“We know that families aren't always aware of the support and opportunities that are available on their doorstep. This unnerving research shows at times like these how crucial local organisations and services are, offering lifelines for parents and families so their children don't miss out on the experiences and learning that can help them grow. 

“As a generation still getting over two years of lockdown, it is more important than ever that children are given equal access to social and enriching experiences, or this can undermine their development and worsen the attainment gap between them and their peers. 

“The National Centre for Family Learning will support the individuals and organisations that are working to narrow attainment gaps, making a real difference to the lives of people in their communities, from local authorities, schools, children’s centres and early years providers to voluntary organisations, offender settings, museums, galleries, libraries and more.”