Tackling poverty to tackle education inequalities

Carol Ball
Carol Ball

Poverty affects the education and life chances of our children, and delegates condemned the disgrace of one in five Scottish children living in poverty and will campaign for additional resources to tackle educational inequalities, for the full implementation of the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty Strategy and for better training for teachers and other school staff on the effects of poverty on children’s ability to learn.

Seconding the composite from teaching unions, the EIS and NASUWT, Carol Ball spoke to UNISON’s amendment and called for measures to tackle the impact of poverty on education to begin at the earliest possible stage in children’s lives, with investment in early years and family centres as well as schools.

“It cannot be right that by the age of 5 the educational attainment gap between low and high income households is already between 10-13 months,” said Carol, adding that by age 12-14, pupils from better off areas are more than twice as likely to do well in numeracy as those from the most deprived communities.

“We all know that poverty and inequality are behind these appalling figures.”

Carol told delegates that the early years are crucial. “There is strong evidence that children who attend nursery do better at reading and maths at age 10, taking background factors into account.

“It is a shocking fact that nearly one in five children in Scotland live in relative poverty. If families struggle with the basics they need, children lose out as parents can’t afford to pay for school trips, sports clubs, educational outings etc.

She called for anti-poverty strategies and training on the impact of poverty for all relevant staff which must recognise that whilst education and child care has an important role, the real key is to eradicate poverty and inequalities that exist.

“There is no evidence that children from deprived backgrounds have fewer aspirations, hopes and dreams. Let’s continue to fight for a fairer, just and equal society so that all children can reach their potential,” urged Carol.

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