Families struggling as child costs rise, says CPAG

Families are struggling as the cost of bringing up a child has risen to £148,000, according to research for the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

The report, co-funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says costs have risen by 4% over the last year.

At the same time it says the value of benefit payments has fallen in real terms.

The government has said such cuts are necessary in order to reduce the UK welfare bill.

But, as a result, the CPAG says parents face a “growing struggle” to provide a decent standard of living for their families.

“This research paints a stark picture of families being squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages, yet receiving ever-diminishing support from the government over the course of the last year,” said Alison Garnham, the chief executive of the CPAG.

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The best things in life are (often) free

AS the school summer holidays approach, many parents will be preparing for their children’s inevitable “I’m bored” moans.

But for cash-strapped families, beating the boredom with expensive day trips may be out of the question, and cheaper home-made fun could be the best option.

Research by the Nationwide Building Society suggests more than half of parents are worried about how they’ll finance entertainment for the kids and childcare during the holidays.

It’s not just less well-off families feeling the pinch. One in 10 higher-income parents (earning £60,000+ a year) admitted expensive days out weren’t possible this year.

Figures compiled by the national charity 4Children show just how much prices have risen in recent years – for instance, the charity says the cost of buying tickets on the day for a family of five to Alton Towers has increased by 57% over the last four years, from £126.50 in 2009 to £198 in 2013.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, says: “Days out can strengthen bonds and build shared family experiences and memories that we know are so important.

“But the financial pressures facing families are already deeply concerning and, when combined with the escalating costs of attractions and transport, the traditional family day out is increasingly under threat.”

However, parents worried about how they’ll afford summer entertainment should remember that kids are very good at entertaining themselves, and can have plenty of cheap and cheerful fun at home.

Read more: http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/best-things-life-free/story-19515591-detail/story.html#ixzz2ZCDDmAmv

State school pupils ‘failing to take the toughest A-levels’

Students from state schools are being put at a disadvantage in the race for places at top universities after failing to take the correct A-levels, the Russell Group warned today.

Many bright teenagers are being turned away from the most sought-after degree courses following a decision to shun traditional subjects in the sixth-form, it was claimed.

The Russell Group, which represents 24 of Britain’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London, warned that large numbers of pupils were missing out on the “right advice and guidance” at a young age.

Some teenagers applied for medicine without taking science qualifications, while others attempted to win places on economics degrees without maths, the group said

The comments were made after research found that students from state schools were significantly less likely to be admitted to leading institutions amid fears the admissions process is “skewed” towards their privately-educated peers.

Pupils need to score the equivalent of one A-level grade higher than children in the independent sector to compensate for “unfair” entry policies at elite Russell Group institutions, researchers warned.

The study suggested that state-educated sixth-formers were around 20 per cent less likely to be admitted than similarly-qualified peers from fee-paying schools.

It was claimed that the admissions system also worked against pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds, with Black and Asian students around two-thirds as likely to win places as white classmates.

The study – based on an analysis of 49,000 university applications – found the problem was partly down to a failure to apply to Russell Group institutions.

Financial literacy falls after the age of 60

A recent study by Texas Tech University has found that Americans are becoming less literate about money after the age of 60, regardless of gender or education.

The study, which tested participants knowledge of investments, insurance, credit and money basics at different stages of life, found that knowledge peaked at age 45-49 but then fell by 2% each year from age 60 (scoring 59%) and declined dramatically after that, with 80+ year-olds scoring a dismal 30%.

The findings are particularly worrying as this is the age that many people are making key financial decisions about social security, medicare and retirements funds. The study also found that confidence in financial decision-making abilities rise with age – suggesting that rather than being older and wiser, people are becoming older, less smart and overconfident!

Source: Marketwatch.com

Nicki

Launch of new research project on enterprise education

With the world economy facing turbulent times and individual countries rethinking how they and their citizens can flourish in the global marketplace, many would argue that the importance of enterprise education has never been greater. But does this mean teaching people how to write a business plan or is it about gaining a broader set of skills essential to success in the 21st Century?

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Drop in young people applying to university

The Guardian reports today on new research conducted by City & Guilds which suggests that just under half of young people (47%) are less likely to apply to university following the increase in fees.

Of the 1,000 pupils surveyed, aged between 14 and 19, more than a quarter (29%) are considering alternative education such as vocational qualifications and apprenticeships, a quarter (24%) will go straight into employment and nearly a fifth (16%) will look for work experience or take a gap year.

The survey also highlighted that schools are still failing to highlight alternatives to university. Whilst 75% of pupils were told about their university options only 49% received information on vocational qualifications.

“University is still seen as superior, even though many are suited to – and therefore should pursue – more hands-on learning”, said Chris Jones, City & Guilds CEO. “Practical, work-based learning provides a valuable career progression route and gives learners the skills and confidence to succeed.”

Read the full story.

Nicki, Business Director

Thousands of children ‘not ready for school’ at five

The Telegraph reports that up to half of five-year-olds are not ready for school as working parents increasingly abandon traditional games, nursery rhymes, bedtime stories and lullabies.

An interview with child development expert, Sally Goddard Blythe supports many of the findings from a recent Ofsted report which found growing numbers of school children were diagnosed as having special education needs when they were in fact ‘no different’ to other pupils.

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