The commitment from ERW to tackle the impact of poverty within education
The ERW strategy is simple, we want to reduce the impact of poverty on attainment, support vulnerable learners and ensure all learners reach their potential. This year again, we accelerated the pace of improvement for free school meal learners. Nevertheless, we also recognise the need to improve the attainment of specific groups of learners.
For those in receipt of free school meals (FSM) we will support schools to make best and targeted use of the additional resources for these pupils. Other learners living in poverty, including rural poverty need our support. In addition, we will encourage schools where interventions to reduce the impact of poverty on educational outcome are working well, and capitalise on their experiences to support others. Challenge Advisers to ensure that school leaders prioritise mitigating the impact of poverty in planning by prioritising specific questions linked to Core Visit 1. These would target the School Development Plan funding in relation to Pupil Development Grant (PDG).
Within the ERW Business Plan, Objective 3, we identify possible work streams to support our commitment to reducing the impact of poverty on attainment. We identify key issues to be explored and questions to be answered;
- Do learners from deprived backgrounds benefit from the highest teaching and learning?
- Do successful schools have active and effective leadership and deploy staff appropriately and effectively to tackle poverty.
We go on to set ourselves further challenges over the next three years;
- Have we supported identified schools (rural) to use effective strategies to improve outcomes?
- Have we made sure that all PDG money is used effectively to gain as much impact as possible?
- Have we used the research on rural poverty to support interventions in schools?
- Have we built the capacity of leaders to better respond to reducing the impact of poverty?
Poverty can have a devastating effect on a child’s life, with children feeling hungry and cold, and less able to join in activities that their peers do. It is associated with lower academic attainment and poorer health and employments. Using the percentage of children receiving free school meals (FSM) as an indicator, the educational performance of these children compared with those who come from more prosperous backgrounds provides clear evidence of the effect of poverty on educational achievement, a major issue for Local Authorities, ERW and the Welsh Government.
There is strong evidence that living in poverty has a major impact on levels of educational achievement for children in Wales. This is particularly troubling at a time of recession, when there is an increasing emphasis on educational outcomes, and when academic attainments at age 15 have become critical for entrance into the job market and further and higher education.
This is why ERW is committed to reducing the impact of poverty on attainment and supporting the most vulnerable to reach their potential.