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‘You want the best for your kids’: Improving educational outcomes for children living in poverty through working with families in early years settings. Dr Daniela Sime Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social Sciences d aniela.sime@strath.ac.uk. Outline. Child poverty in Scotland

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dr daniela sime senior lecturer school of applied social sciences d aniela sime@strath ac uk

‘You want the best for your kids’:Improving educational outcomes for children living in poverty through working with families in early years settings

Dr Daniela Sime

Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social Sciences

daniela.sime@strath.ac.uk

outline
Outline
  • Child poverty in Scotland
  • The impact of poverty on children’s educational opportunities and well-being
  • Parents’ expectations
  • Assess the evidence on what works in supporting families in poverty
  • Implications for policy and practice
understanding today s families
Understanding today’s families

Changing family forms

Major factors impacting

on children and family

life in 21st century

Media and social networking

Poverty and social inequalities

Global warming

Consumerism

Migration and linguistic diversity

Uncertainty about future

World violence

mothers in work
Mothers in work
  • Employment of mothers affects the dynamics of family systems dramatically
  • Many families depend on childcare from early on
  • The variable quality of childcare available and high cost to families impacts on choices
  • Role of extended family- grandparents as main carers
diversity of families
Diversity of families
  • Children in reconstituted families

- almost 50% of marriages end up in divorce

  • Children in single parent families

- 1 in 4 families are lone parent families

- UK: 3.1 million children in the UK (1.9 million parents)

- Scotland:174,000 parents with 300,000 children

Source: One Parent Families Scotland www.opfs.org.uk

http://www.opfs.org.uk/files/one-parent-families_a-profile_2009.pdf

silenced children
‘Silenced children’
  • Children in gay & lesbian families
  • Adopted children
  • Children in care/looked after

- around 80,000 in the UK, of which 15,000 in Scotland

  • Children with imprisoned parents

- 4% of children experience father imprisonment

- 70% of women in prison have children

silenced children1
‘Silenced children’
  • Children in families with disability

- 1.7 million disabled parents in the UK (12% of all parents)

- 800,000 disabled children in the UK

  • Migrant and ethnic minority children (Gypsy Travellers)
  • Asylum seeking children

- 20% of asylum seeking families have children

- around 7,000 unaccompanied children, alone in the UK

- children in detention centres

family diversity why should we care
Family diversity – why should we care?
  • Families are children’s most important educators
  • Children’s and parents’ well-being is key to their ability to engage in education
  • Important how we think and talk about families
  • Direct implications on how we frame ‘parental involvement’ and how inclusive this is
why focus on poverty
Why focus on poverty?

All societies exhibit some degree of inequality

Poverty is the unacceptabledimension of inequality in our society

It requires policy and practical action

Practitioners can help children at risk!

defining poverty
Defining poverty
  • Poverty – a situation where resources are less than needs or below a defined poverty line.
  • Needs – defined in relation to prevailing living standards of the society. What do you see as essential needs?

“Individuals, families and groups can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged or approved, in societies in which they belong”. (Townsend, 1979:31)

what do poorest children go without adelman et al 2003
What do poorest children go without? (Adelman et al., 2003)

Three meals

a day

8%

Fresh fruit and milk

21%

Books

5%

Leisure equipment

18%

Waterproof jacket

13%

School uniform

16%

Toys

(dolls, teddies)

6%

Own room when 10 years old

11%

Meat or fish every day

30%

School trip 12%

Construction toys 30%

Family holiday

60%

New clothes, fitted shoes

24%

Educational games

32%

Garden to play in

21%

points to consider
Points to consider
  • How does your school/service identify children/families who are poor?
  • Any indicators that you use?
  • Who does this and how is information used?
  • What actions are in place to support poor children?
and the other half
..and the other half

Photos of affluent areas

impact of area on
Impact of area on…
  • Safety
  • Children’s access to services
  • Quality of services

Any good places, there’s fighting when you go, so you don’t feel safe… because people are in teams and that… and everything is vandalised’

(Boy, 13, city estate)

‘There’s nothing to do in the park for young people of my age, it’s all for younger children, swings and slides. So we end up just walking up and down the streets’ (Girl, 14, city estate)

‘Everything is run down here, not like in the posh areas’

(Girl, 10, remote rural)

myths about poverty
Myths about poverty
  • ‘People on benefits are lazy and don’t want to work’

FACT: Most people affected by poverty are children, elders, workers on low wages or disabled

  • FACT: Disabled and sick people may find it difficult to get employment- assumption their work will be affected
  • FACT: Ethnic minorities are often excluded from labour market through prejudice
  • ‘People can have a great life on benefits, they go on holidays abroad, have big 60-inchTVs and drive Mercedeses’
  • FACT: Many people do not claim the benefits they are entitled to.
  • FACT: Vast majority go without basic resources and activities and have limited access to services.
  • FACT: Poverty is embarrassing, families will give children ‘luxury’ items, to mask their situation.
measuring child poverty
Measuring child poverty
  • In UK- poverty line- 60% of median income per week, after housing costs.

DWP (2012) Households Below Average Income 2010/2011

how many children then
How many children then?
  • Whole UK

2010/11 3.5 million

expected to rise in

2020 4.7 million

  • Scotland

250,000- 260,000 (25%)

  • How are we comparing with the rest of the world?

Child Poverty Action Group (www.cpag.org.uk )

relative income poverty percentage of children in households with income less than 50 of median
Relative income poverty: Percentage of children in households with income less than 50% of median
blaming the victim
Blaming the victim?
  • Structure vs. Agency
  • Structure- focus on social circumstances and social opportunities (labour market conditions, economic growth, educational opportunities, services etc.)
  • Agency – focus on individual choices and effort, individuals are seen as ultimately responsible
  • Life chances are a product of both structure and agency, individual decisions are often constrained by structural forces
  • Individuals can not always be blamed for their situation!
factors that contribute to child poverty
Factors that contribute to child poverty
  • Family type

- lone-parent family 48% of all lone parent families in UK (1.5 m)

- two-parent family 21% of all two-parent families in UK (2.0 m)

  • Number of children

- 1 child - 24% 2 children - 24% 3 children - 29%

- 4 or more children 51%

  • Education of parents, especially of mothers
  • Disability in family (parent or child)
  • Parents’ employment

- employed lone parent 9% two parents 3%

- unemployed lone parent 74% two parents 77%

  • Ethnic group

White 25% (3.4 mil) Indian 42% (0.1mil) Pakistani/Bangladeshi 63%(0.2 mil)

Black, Black British 49% (0.2 mil) Other ethnic groups 52%(0.2 mil)

most damaging effects of child poverty
Most damaging effects of child poverty

IMPACT ON EDUCATION

  • Lower achievement
  • Less time spent in education

IMPACT ON HEALTH

  • Shorter life expectancy
  • Increased exposure to risks and bad health; higher risk of mental health

IMPACT ON SOCIAL PARTICIPATION

  • Limited access to activities, services and opportunities
  • Diminishedcultural, economic and social capital
  • Can possibly link to cycles of disadvantage

(Read more at www.cpag.org.uk/povertyfacts/)

poverty and health life expectancy
Poverty and health- life expectancy
  • Glasgow – 69 years (lowest in the UK; UK average is 79!)
  • Significant discrepancies between areas:

Bearden, Lenzie, Milngavie, Clarkston, Kilmacolm – 80+

Calton, Shettleston, Drumchapel, Dalmarnock, Kinning Park – 54-59

Iraq – 68; Iran- 69; North Korea- 71; Gaza - 73

  • 47% of Glasgow’s population lives in 15% of the most deprived areas in Scotland (Glasgow Economic Audit, 2007)
  • Higher rates of infant mortality and illness in deprived areas
simd data glasgow map http www scotland gov uk topics statistics simd
SIMD data- Glasgow maphttp://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/SIMD
growing up in scotland gus study
Growing up in Scotland (GUS) study
  • Longitudinal project- following 8,000 children in Scotland from birth/2-3 years old throughout their life
  • ‘The circumstances of persistently poor children’ report

http://www.growingupinscotland.org.uk/

it s a class thing the importance of the home environment
‘It’s a class thing’- The importance of the home environment
  • Differences in parental approaches
  • Children being read to every day

42% in poor families vs. 79% in non-poor

  • Children taking part in local activities

34% in poor families vs. 84% in non-poor

  • By age 2, children whose mothers frequently spoke to them had on average 300 more words than peers
  • What parents/carers to with their children matters more than their qualifications or SES (See the EPPE study)
an impossible mission then
An impossible mission then?
  • Clearly, the quality of the home learning environment and parenting style put some children at advantage, but…
  • Feinstein’s study on 1970 Birth Cohort Survey:

10 % in the bottom group at 42 months were in the top quartile at age 10

  • Early years provision is crucial to children from disadvantaged backgrounds -decisions and attitudes experienced in early years are the main drivers for educational attainment in teenage years
the key is quality of care
The key is quality of care
  • High quality early years provision

At 15 and 24 months, the more attentive, responsive and stimulating nursery, the higher the cognitive and linguistic scores

At age 4, higher math, reading and memory scores for children in high quality nurseries

  • Low quality early years provision- opposite effect

Including high cortisol levels, aggression, attachment problems later on in life

why are the early years critical
Why are the early years critical?
  • This is the optimum time to make the most difference

By age of 3, 50% of language is in place; by age of 5, 85%

By age of 4, brain size at 90% of adult size

  • Critical period for attainment in education, confidence, skills

By age 4, children become aware of differences related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability

  • Foundation for future well-being and key time as prevention of later problems, e.g. drug use, mental health etc.
what makes high quality early years care
What makes high quality early years care?
  • Ratio of children to staff (3:1 at ages 0-2)
  • Quality of adult-child interactions
  • Motivation of staff
  • Graduates among staff (1/3 or ½ of staffing)
  • Pay scales based on school roles
  • Quality of the physical environment

See Susan Deacon’s Review (2011) ‘Joining the dots: A better start for Scotland’s Children’

promoting thinking skills bloom s taxonomy 1956
Promoting thinking skills (Bloom’s taxonomy, 1956)

What do you think…

What will happen if…

Why is this…

How can we…

Have you thought about…

sustained shared thinking siraj blatchford and silva 2004
Sustained shared thinking(Siraj-Blatchford and Silva, 2004)

What is your favourite fruit?Child: I like bananas.

Why do you like bananas?Child: Because they are sweet?

Where do we get the bananas from?Child: The supermarket?

Do you go with your mum shopping?Child: Yes, we go together in the car.

Teacher: That sounds great! Let’s draw a banana.Child: Ok.

What is your favourite fruit?

Child: I like bananas.

Why do you think they are yellow?

Child: Because they are green first, and then they ripe and turn yellow.

Where do you think they come from?

Child: They come from Africa, which is far away, so they bring them on a ship.

What could we make with a banana?

Child: We could paint a face on it and turn it into a puppet.

Great idea. Do you want to ask me something about bananas?

what factors enable poor children to achieve positive outcomes in adulthood
What factors enable poor children to achieve positive outcomes in adulthood?

Financial factors

Environmental factors

Individual and family-level factors

Practice-level factors

practice level factors
Practice level factors

Having high expectations and aspirations

Foster resilience and coping strategies in children and parents

Promote high levels of engagement in children’s education

Supporting the educational attainment of parents and children

Creating mixed cohorts of advantaged and disadvantaged children

Delivering personalised support through key workers and ‘trusted’ individuals

Delivering services in a localised way

have high expectations and aspirations
Have high expectations and aspirations
  • Barrier: ‘Self-fulfilling prophecy’ - Limiting children’s educational opportunities by having low aspirations and expectations
  • Don’t think: ‘They can’t do it’ ; ‘Given where they come from, what do you expect?’, ‘No point in trying’, ‘They won’t go to university, will they?’
  • Do:
  • aim high for every child
  • challenge children’s thinking and learning
  • guide children’s learning on one to one activities
  • ask challenging questions
  • raise parents’ confidence
valuing children s informal learning
Valuing children’s informal learning
  • Problem: Informal learning that children do in their families is often seen as irrelevant or undesirable

(e.g. work skills of Gypsy Travellers, bilingual skills)

  • Don’t think: ‘That’s not in the curriculum, so what good is it to me?’; ‘I can’t do/speak that, so how can I use it?’
  • Do:
  • Build on children’s home-based learning
  • Get children to show their skills/knowledge- teach others
  • Get parents involved in activities in the nursery/school
building on diversity
Building on diversity
  • Problem: home culture and language are stripped away as ‘unacceptable’
  • Don’t say: ‘We don’t speak Polish in here’, ‘We don’t say ‘aye’ in here’, ‘Is that what you do at home?’
  • Do:
  • Acknowledge and accept children’s backgrounds
  • Find a way to reconcile their home and school identities
  • Celebrate diversity, but don’t make it tokenistic
  • Make the nursery/school environment a welcoming place for all
not judging children and parents
Not judging children and parents
  • Problem: Unaware of home circumstances or parents’ background, applying the deficit model
  • Don’t think: ‘They can’t be bothered, why should I?’, ‘S/he is just slow’, ‘Have you seen his mother?’, ‘They are all drug addicts in this area’
  • Do:
  • Be aware of your own attitudes/judgements
  • Don’t apply the deficit model, try and find out why parents/children might behave in a certain way
  • Use home visits to get to know the family
  • Talk to parents regularly, not just when there are problems
what do parents want barriers and expectations
What do parents want? Barriers and expectations

You want the best for your kids, A want better for ma kids, better than A had for masel. I’m doon here all the time. A think am a bit too pushy sometimes with the kids and am always doon here [at school]. (parent from a primary school)

See cause av got the four weans and am young, av no quite developed yet and am finding it hard wi’ a’ the weans. (parent from

nursery)

A cannae read and write, A don’t know ma A,B, Cs so A can’t help him with reading and writing. (parent from nursery)

See trying to get the weans to do homework it’s really hard so I would like to know how A could help them with their homework at that time. (parent from primary school)

factors which condition parents carers involvement
Factors which condition parents’/carers’ involvement
  • Education status of parent, especially of mother
  • Self-confidence and aspirations
  • Parents’ own experiences of schooling
  • Parents’ attitude to involvement
  • Information available to parents
  • Schools’ attitude to involving parents
  • Practical issues- inflexible hours, childcare, transport

(McNamara et al., 2000; Reay, 2005; Gillies, 2007)

parenting
Parenting

Helping families understand child development and give them confidence and skills in supporting their children’s learning and well being

Create opportunities for parents to learn how to engage with children effectively

Talk to parents about the importance of their involvement

Make the curriculum materials accessible/ jargon-free

Signpost parents to local organisations (parenting centre, library, college)

Signpost services which might help (finance, housing etc.)

learning at home
Learning at home

Providing information and skills that support learning at home and help families engage in curriculum-related conversations

Build on the knowledge and skills children develop at home

Show activities parents can do at home

Offer resources which parents can borrow

Signpost parents to local organisations (parenting centre, library, college)

Make the curriculum materials accessible/ relevant/ jargon-free

communicating
Communicating

Emphasise communication in both directions and find the best ways to communicate

Think about barriers and how to overcome them (social, cultural, linguistic, physical)

Ensure it is both ways (what opportunities do parents have?)

Find the best medium (face-to-face, email, call, letter)

Children’s voice- how can they contribute?

decision making
Decision making

Find the best ways to include parents/carers and children in the decision making processes

Enable parents to engage in genuine participation

Think of time/place and who is (always) involved

What stops some from participating and how can you challenge this?

Children’s voice- how to capture this?

volunteering community collaborations
Volunteering/community collaborations

Find a range of ways to involve parents through nursery and school, but also through home-based activities, and engage community-based links.

How can parents help in the nursery- story telling, reading, art, helpers

What resources are there in the community- any potential partnerships

How can parents help from home- make things, fundraise, online activities

Barriers to participation- how do we make sure it’s not the same parents all the time

final thought
Final thought…

“It’s not really an exaggeration to say that the kind of relationships that adults provide for children will affect generations to come.

We can impact the future of our world by caring well for our children and by being intentional in giving them the kind of relationships that we value and that we want them to see as normal.”

(Sigel and Bryson, 2012, The whole-brain child)