NEU Cymru, Wales’s largest education union, is calling on the Welsh Government to make sure they leave no child behind by increasing the Pupil Development Grant, and work towards every child in Wales having a free school meal and breakfast every day.
The National Education Union Cymru is also asking Welsh Government to increase support for pre-school children and families by extending Flying Start programmes, and provide schools urgently with funding and resources to deal with children who are traumatised by the effects of poverty such as being made homeless.
Mary van den Heuvel, Senior Wales Policy Officer of the National Education Union Cymru, said:
“Our members have rightly highlighted the challenge of child poverty here in Wales. Socio-economic factors coupled with other types of inequality have a significant impact on children and their learning.
“We have seen the impact that Welsh Government has had, in rolling out universal free school meals to all primary aged children, and it is critical that a meal is available to all children – regardless of their age/ phase of education.
“Schools can’t support children alone; they need funding and help from a range of community-based services. The Pupil Development Grant needs to increase, to reflect the cost increase to schools of providing support.
“We know the Welsh Government is committed to supporting children living in poverty, but more needs to be done to make sure all children can fulfil their potential and are not held back by their circumstances. We look forward to working with the Welsh Government on these critical issues.”
The text of the motion to conference on this issue was as follows:
Motion 7. No Child left Behind – Tackling Child Poverty
Conference Cymru notes that the social exclusion felt by low-income learners is frequently heightened by other forms of inequality, with lower income children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller and black groups more likely to say that they are lonely and unhappy at school compared to white Welsh or British children of a similar socioeconomic status.
Conference Cymru acknowledges the NEU’s UK No Child Left Behind campaign which is fighting to break down the barrier’s poverty puts up around equal access to education. It also acknowledges the work done nationally and in Wales by the NEU in conjunction with the Poverty Action group.
Conference Cymru calls upon NEU Cymru via the Executive to organise and campaign to put pressure on the Welsh Government to:
Increase the Pupil Development Grant and ensure that as a minimum it matches the best on offer from the rest of the UK and reflects the inflationary pressures that education and schools face.
Work towards every child in Wales having a free school meal and breakfast every day.
Recognise that schools alone cannot overcome the links between child poverty and low achievement. Ensure that Welsh Government adheres to the stated aims in its national mission and that all sectors and sections of society (including out of school, community-based services) are involved in supporting these young people and tackling child poverty.
Increase support for pre-school children and families by extending Flying Start programmes.
Provide schools urgently with funding and resources to deal with children who are traumatised by the effects of poverty such as being made homeless.
As educators, we know first-hand how poverty limits the life chances of children and significantly affects their educational experience and outcomes in school. We are calling on the Welsh Government to leave no child behind.