Report Highlights Schools Success Reducing Effect of Poverty on Educational Achievement

Posted on 17 December 2014

A report published by the Wales Centre for Equity in Education (WCEE) today has revealed how some schools and community settings in disadvantaged areas of Wales are successfully reducing the effect of poverty on educational achievement.

WCEE was set up by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and University of Wales. It represents a commitment by the universities to develop policy, applied research and innovative practice that will contribute to improving equity within the Welsh education system.

Today’s report, entitled The Good News…What schools in Wales are doing to reduce the impact of poverty on pupils’ achievement, can be found on the Centre’s website. It is based on case studies of twelve schools and community settings that are bucking the trend in terms of performance of pupils in receipt of free school meals. The case studies were gathered as part of the Policy Observatory project, funded by Welsh Government and compiled by WCEE in collaboration with the Regional Education Consortia and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

The research focuses on what schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas are doing to reduce the impact of poverty on pupils’ achievement. It reveals examples throughout Wales of schools and community partnerships that are making a big difference in narrowing the achievement gap and they all share three key characteristics:

1. Strong leadership.
2. Effective teaching.
3. Strong relationships with parents and the wider community.

Dr Russell Grigg, WCEE Executive Head of Research, said: “All of the schools successfully reducing the achievement gap are well led. Leaders, at all levels, demonstrate a ‘no excuses’ attitude and the self-belief that they can make a significant difference to the educational outcomes achieved by every child. They use data to monitor performance and set realistic targets, hold high expectations (of staff and pupils) and succeed in creating a culture where all are valued.

“The teachers in these schools make lessons interesting, relevant and challenging. They are good role models and give clear feedback. The curriculum builds on what pupils already know and effective ‘catch-up’ support is given, where necessary, to strengthen basic skills of literacy and numeracy.

“Strong ties have also been forged with parents and the wider community. This isn’t always easy. Some parents have negative attitudes to school, often borne out of their own experiences. We found that the effective schools break down barriers and worked with parents, on issues such as improving their own basic skills and their children’s attendance. They do simple things to celebrate success with parents, such as ringing home with good news about their children’s achievements so that parents do not automatically equate school contact with ‘a problem.’ Leaders also establish partnerships with businesses and others in the community to enrich pupils’ learning experiences.”

/Ends

Notes to Editors

For more information, or to interview a representative of the Wales Centre for Equity in Education, please contact Steven Stokes, Principal Corporate Communications and PR Officer, on 07872 423788 or email steven.stokes@sm.uwtsd.ac.uk

There is also an opportunity to speak to the schools (both Welsh and English medium) involved in the case studies.

The Policy Observatory report can be downloaded via http://learning.wales.gov.uk/resources/browse-all/reducing-the-impact-of-poverty-on-educational-achievement/?lang=en

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