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Child Poverty. Child Poverty and Educational Inequalities SQA Seminar 19 February 2009 John Dickie Head of CPAG in Scotland . CPAG in Scotland . What do we do? Overall aim to end child poverty raise awareness, campaign, lobby

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child poverty
Child Poverty

Child Poverty and Educational Inequalities

SQA Seminar 19 February 2009

John Dickie

Head of CPAG in Scotland

cpag in scotland
CPAG in Scotland

What do we do?

  • Overall aim to end child poverty
  • raise awareness, campaign, lobby
  • work to ensure families receive the financial supports they are entitled to

advice, training, information to frontline workers

includes benefits for students project

child poverty3
Child Poverty
  • Context – nature of the problem – what are we talking about?
  • Response to date – Scottish and UK government
  • Relationship with educational inequalities
  • What needs to happen and who needs to do it?
  • Role of SQA in reducing inequalities?
the problem
The problem
  • 250 000 children living in poverty (1in4)(ahc)
  • (across UK 1 in 3, 3.9 million children)
  • twice 1979 rate
  • over twice rate of many other European countries
  • children at greater risk than population as a whole
  • public scepticism …tendency to blame individuals
  • structural problem of inequality, discrimination, unfair distribution of income
  • relative poverty measure
impact of child poverty
Impact of Child Poverty
  • By age 3, children in poverty 9 months behind in ‘school readiness’
  • birth-weight – children born in the poorest fifth of areas average weigh 200g less than richest fifth
  • cost to society – estimate at £1.5 - £1.75 billion (Scotland), also loss of social cohesion/wellbeing.
  • Impact uneven – lone parenthood, disability, family size, worklessness, ethnicity
the response
The response
  • Targets to reduce child poverty by one quarter by half by 2010
  • …and eradicate it by 2020
  • “Our historic aim, that ours is the first generation to end child poverty forever …It’s a 20-year mission, but I believe it can be done” Tony Blair, March 1999
  • “We have made clear our commitment…to doing all within the powers available to us to help achieve the milestone to halve child poverty by 2010…and eradicating child poverty by 2020” Scottish Government, January 2008
the response8
The response

Related Scottish Government targets

(in National Performance Framework)

  • Reduce income inequality – the Solidarity Golden Rule (one of six top level Purpose Targets)
  • Decrease the proportion of individuals living in poverty (Indicator 10)
current policy and impact
Current Policy and Impact
  • Key Policy measures to improve incomes:
    • Investment in family incomes (tax credits, child benefit) and in Scotland take up and advice and information
    • Increasing parental employment (W2W, Working for Families, improved rights at work)
    • Improving earnings from employment (NMW, skills)
how well are we doing
How well are we doing?
  • Policy works: first target to reduce child poverty by a quarter by 2004-05 met in Scotland (though not in UK)
  • Subject on political agenda across political parties
  • but child poverty in UK increased by 200,000 children in 2005-07, and standstill in Scotland
  • Not on track to meet the target for 2010
  • Consultation on UK Child Poverty Bill
key issues
Key Issues
  • Welfare reform - Conditionality
    • Rights and responsibilities –is balance right ??
    • Conditions and sanctions – risk to children
  • Availability of good quality jobs
    • Low pay, discrimination, insecurity, lack of progression, rising unemployment
    • Half of children in poverty living in working families
        • Lone parent employment rate target of 70% would already be met if sustained jobs at same rate as other
  • Gaps in provision – childcare
key issues 2
Key Issues 2
  • Benefit/TC ‘safety net’ inadequate
    • and families not getting what they are entitled to
    • Make Child Benefit Count
  • Scottish Government/COSLA Framework for tackling poverty (Achieving our Potential)
    • welcome language and ambition, but are mechanisms strong enough to ensure resources have desired impact on ground?
  • Barriers to education
impact of poverty on education
Impact of Povertyon Education
  • Among lowest attaining 20% of pupils twice proportion of pupils registered for FSM. Attainment gap widening.
  • Highest proportion of the lowest attaining pupils live in most deprived areas.
  • By age 3, children in poverty 9 mths behind in ‘school readiness’.
impact of poverty on education15
Impact of Povertyon Education
  • At each stage of schooling poverty gap grows.
  • Worse prospects as enter secondary school.
  • Big jump in gap in early secondary
  • Worse results at age 16.
  • Twice as likely to leave school with no qualifications.
  • Social gap in university entrance.
  • Poorer children find school more alienating and oppressive, feel lack of control over learning, disaffected
  • Fewer out-of-school learning opportunities
the costs of school reinforcing disadvantage
The costs of school: reinforcing disadvantage
  • Prohibitive costs exclude children– from school trips, from home access to computers/internet, from creative and cultural opportunities.
  • Lack of consistency or guidance on charging policy.
  • Cost of healthy school meals: undermines nutrition.
  • Cost of school clothing: variation across Scotland in school clothing grants.
chicken and egg
Chicken and egg
  • Education can’t in itself end child poverty – need to recognise limits of education policy.
  • As long as families don’t have enough money to bring up children attainment gaps will prevail, undermining the next generation, and their children’s, chances of living lives free of poverty.
  • In seeking to address educational inequalities need to look at range of factors that impact on children.
  • Yet education policy can, and must, play a role in reducing the inequalities in the life chances of our children.
what needs to happen
What needs to happen?
  • Address inadequate family incomes
    • Tackle low pay and inadequate benefit/tax credit safety net
  • Reduce the costs of participation
    • Build on free school meals pilot and extension
    • Identify and promote good practice in minimising impact of charges for school related activity
    • Minimise impact of school uniform costs
  • Put children’s well-being at forefront of childcare and educational strategy, irrespective of parental work status.
  • Role of SQA?
  • See
next steps
Next steps
  • Child poverty and underachievement not inevitable.
  • With the right action all children can participate and benefit fully from educational opportunities
  • Ending child poverty needs to be at heart of education agenda
  • Sign up to 2 skint 4 school
  • Link your website or blog to
  • Let us know your views- Help our research and inform the campaign's main report and recommendations
  • Also see: