We know that there is a direct link between poverty and educational attainment. The impact of one on the other is unquestionable. Around one fifth of children in Wales lives in poverty, the highest percentage of children in the UK.
Huge cuts to local authority funding have impacted disproportionately on the poorest, most disadvantaged communities.
More and more families are relying on food banks. Some children have had to leave their communities and schools due to the bedroom tax.
As noted in the Welsh Government’s curriculum review, children and young people only spend a limited amount of time in school. Outside influences are wholly critical to educational attainment. Whether children are ready and able to learn depends on a wide range of factors, many of which are outside teachers’ control. Unless child poverty is addressed by the next government, millions will never achieve their full potential.
Lessons from other countries such as Finland show that, when government pursue policies to reduce inequality, educational outcomes radically improve.
NEU Cymru have supported measures in Wales that are targeted towards tackling poverty. We continue to campaign on this issue including arguing for:
- Achievable and realistic targets to be set, and adhered to, for ending child poverty.
- Funding for the pupil deprivation grant to be continued, and where possible, increased.
- Free school meals and breakfast to be continued, but delivered through additional funding to that required for the provision of education in schools.
- The Education Maintenance Allowance to be protected.
- The Welsh Government to make reducing youth unemployment a high priority.