Estyn, Wales’s education inspectorate, cites research showing that in general youngsters living in poverty do not achieve as well as their peers at school. They have lower aspirations, acquire fewer skills and are more likely to face unemployment in their lives.
But some schools have managed to improve disadvantaged children’s learning and wellbeing, and Estyn’s good practice guide highlights the strategies they have used.
Titled Effective Practice in Tackling Poverty and Disadvantage in Schools, the guide showcases a number of practical steps for schools.
These include making better use of data to track the progress of disadvantaged learners, focusing on their literacy and learning skills, developing their social and emotional skills and providing “enriching experiences” that other children might take for granted, such as clubs, activities and cultural trips.
“Schools play a pivotal role in tackling the educational, social and emotional problems facing disadvantaged children who are brought up in poverty,” said Ann Keane, chief inspector of Estyn.
“We know that the link between disadvantage and educational underachievement is strong. There is no single explanation as to why learners from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t perform as well as their peers and there is no easy solution.
“What we do know, though, is that schools can – with the right approaches, the right leadership and strategies in place – help these pupils to do well at school by developing and offering them individual academic, social and emotional support.”
The report features a number of good practice case studies, including Sandfields Comprehensive School in Port Talbot, Cwrt Sart Community Comprehensive in Neath, Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive in Swansea, Cathays High in Cardiff, and Ysgol Bryn Elian in Colwyn Bay.
Effective Practice in Tackling Poverty and Disadvantage in Schools can be downloaded by searching the Estyn website for the title. Visit www.estyn.gov.uk