Home > Education Policy, Teaching > Improving outcomes for disadvantaged children

Improving outcomes for disadvantaged children

Recently I have been thinking a lot about barriers for learning, as the module I’m currently studying for my MA is on this. I wrote this post about false variables and it got me thinking a lot about the effect socio-economic status has on the development of the child. I stated in that post that I thought:

“This could be due to a plethora of reasons which may include: a higher level of education to the parents, enabling them to provide more support to learning at home; a higher income in the house which may enable private tuition if a child is falling behind or even that more working class families are reliant on shift work, longer days and multiple jobs, leaving them less time to spend with their children to aid their development.”

This idea was also one that jumped out at me when I read this article on the BBC website. The suggestion was that poverty has little effect in some other countries, so it shouldn’t here. But that suggests that poverty alone is the issue that effects academic achievement, when in actuality it is a crude measure which is indicative of a variety of other factors, the effects of which we should be trying to minimise. The bbc article also fails to take into account the relative differences in culture, the hours of schooling and other factors that vary between countries.

In Britain the reasons mentioned above are prevalent in many families that fall below the poverty line. The level of education of the parents is one that we are working on, but we could do more. Perhaps schools should offer more adult education classes to enable parents to help their children at home. Perhaps the government could provide some resources to enable parents to learn the skills they’d need to be able to help. (Maybe all parents should be issued with Rob Eastaway’s Maths for Mums and Dads?!) A reformed system of higher education, replacing the current student loans system with a graduate tax, would perhaps stop the stigma of “debt” being attached to university places and allow more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education. The Pupil Premium payments are going some way towards allowing schools to offer disadvantaged pupils some of the opportunities that others take for granted, but there is still a large gap in the equality of opportunity that I feel needs a multiagency approach that needs to be driven by the government. The third issue mentioned is one that would be eliminated by the introduction of a living wage. This would stop the need for massively long working weeks, allow more people into work and improve outcomes for all.

On the whole schools are working tirelessly to close the gap, and I would suggest that in many areas there has been significant improvement. I do feel, however, that we need a more holistic approach which would allow for a more equal society.

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  1. February 8, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

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