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Tackling poverty is still not a high enough priority for schools


Although many schools are aware of the importance of improving the standards and wellbeing of disadvantaged pupils, addressing poverty is still not a high enough priority for schools across Wales.

Estyn’s report, Working together to tackle the impact of poverty on educational achievement is the third in a series that looks at child poverty. It looks at the partnership work between schools, local authorities and external agencies to address the impact of poverty on attainment and includes case studies of best practice.

Ann Keane, Chief Inspector says,

“The link between disadvantage and educational underachievement is as strong as ever. We know that disadvantaged learners don’t perform as well as their peers despite a slight narrowing in the gap between the performance of learners who are eligible for free schools meal and those who are not.

“I urge all headteachers and senior leaders to consider how well their school understands the needs of disadvantaged learners and to evaluate how well they work with outside agencies so that the impact of poverty on achievement is tackled more effectively.”

Schools that have been successful in raising the performance of disadvantaged learners focus on the needs of individual pupils. These schools identify a dedicated member of staff to coordinate work with external services which helps them to understand and monitor all the support received by pupils.

Providers that engage families in school life have noticed improvements in pupils’ confidence, attitudes to learning and attendance rates. For example, Pillgwenlly Primary School, Newport, introduced a family nurture room that enabled children to work alongside their parents. The school has noticed a resulting increase in attendance rates.

The report also found that local authorities do not always share information about disadvantaged learners with other agencies. In addition, there are not enough training opportunities for school leaders to learn about tackling the impact of poverty.

A number of recommendations for schools, local authorities and consortia are highlighted in the full report including a recommendation that schools should work more closely with partner schools to develop a common approach and work with other agencies to engage disadvantaged families more in school life.

About the report

Estyn’s report Working together to tackle the impact of poverty on educational achievement was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and is available in full here.
This report is based on evidence from:
visits to a representative sample of 26 schools, scrutiny of data and reports on inspections of schools and local authority education services.
visits to six local authorities with high levels of deprivation.
Case studies:

Pillgwenlly Primary School, Newport
Treorchy Primary School, Rhondda Cynon Taff
Alexandra Primary School, Wrexham
Neath Port Talbot Local Authority

Tackling poverty and disadvantage in schools: working with the community and other services - July 2011


Effective practice in tackling poverty and disadvantage in schools - November 2012


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