Nearly half the children in the state school system are growing up in families facing significant financial disadvantage. Parents interviewed in the course of this research reported substantial costs being passed on to them in the form of discretionary levies, uniform requirements and fundraising. These costs act as a barrier to children’s participation in school activities, at times quite rigorously enforced by school authorities. An inability to afford routine costs such as uniforms, shoes, food, bus fares and curriculum costs were all cited as reasons for school absenteeism and contributed to social exclusion for the children.
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