Poverty Proofing Schools

Have you poverty proofed your school?

I have really enjoyed reading the blog post of Iesha Small – ‘What middle class teachers need to know about their working class pupils in poverty’, especially her final thoughts. After this read the blog post by Headteacher of Creative School of the Year 2017, ‘Our schools are drowning under a tidal wave of human misery‘.  Siobhan Collingwood tells it like it is and her closing comments are worth clinging onto,

I hope these times will be remembered in future staff rooms as a darkly heroic phase that we survived and emerged from bloodied but unbowed. And I hope that the beauty of our job, which is to be found in helping young people to grow and develop into the fine young people that we know them to be, will remain the privilege it always has been, and not a lifetime of battling galloping monsters and poisonous snakes.

For Iain Duncan Smith, poverty was the rotten fruit of broken families, addiction or debt. This we can’t argue with.

How about taking a leaf out of Finland’s book and giving £500 to the unemployed with no strings attached. Universal basic income is a must.

According to the charity Children North East, teachers should not ask their children what they did at the weekend and holidays as this can lead to less well-off children feeling awkward and uncomfortable. In an attempt to “poverty proof” schools, Luke Bramhall, who leads Poverty Proofing the School Day project, said that teachers must be sensitive in their choice of conversation topics to ensure pupils do not feel excluded.

Dr Mazzoli Smith at Newcastle University said,

By uncovering the myriad ways in which children living in poverty can be stigmatised at school, ‘Poverty Proofing the School Day’ does a great service in reminding us all why it is still so difficult for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to do well in the English education system in the 21st century.

Poverty proofing schools is a necessity so disadvantaged children can relax and not feel under pressure because of their backgrounds. An example of this is the school that have banned pencil cases in a bid to stop pupils from poor families being stigmatised. Head teacher of St Wilfrid’s Primary School in Blyth, Northumberland, Pauline Johnstone, said pencil cases have been banned “so there’s no comparison on the tables and children are learning”.

Poverty in Britain is extreme – who would have thought that Headteachers are having to turn to charities as families sleep by bins?

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