Improving educational outcomes for children living in

skillfulbuyerUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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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



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

Major factors impacting

on children and family

life in 21
st

century

World
violence

Poverty and
social
inequalities

Changing family
forms

Migration and
linguistic diversity

Media and
social
networking

Consumerism

Uncertainty
about
future

Global
warming

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



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’



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 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?


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

Bronfenbrenner’s

Ecological Model

Why focus on poverty?


All societies exhibit some
degree of inequality



Poverty is the
unacceptable

dimension of inequality in
our society



It requires policy and
practical action



Practitioners
can

help
children at risk!

10


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)

11

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

12

Three meals


a day

8%

Toys


(dolls, teddies)

6%

Leisure
equipment

18%

Waterproof
jacket

13%

Own room
when 10
years old

11%

Construction
toys 30%

School trip
12%

Family
holiday

60%

School
uniform

16%

Fresh fruit
and milk

21%

Meat or fish
every day

30%

New clothes,
fitted shoes

24%

Garden to
play in

21%

Books

5%


Educational
games

32%

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?


13

Poverty and its impact on local areas

..and the other half



Photos of affluent areas

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)

Media discourse




17

‘Caught: Mother of two who swindled £7,000 in benefits
while working as a stripper’ (Daily Mail, 04/11/2009)

‘Pictured: Disabled £100,000 benefit cheat caught
mowing the lawn’ (Daily Mail, 30/01/2009)

‘500,000 benefit scroungers will be
made to seek work’ (Daily Express,
17/10/2010)

‘Workshy Britain: How £1.75 jobless have
been on benefits for five years’ (Daily
Mail, 23/6/2010)

‘The shamble of our shameless: Nearly 100000 living on
benefits have four children or more’ (The Sun,
07/10/2010)

‘The sickest place in Britain: Meet the residents
of the country’s benefits capital’ (Daily Mail)

‘UK told to pay full benefits to country’s
terrorist suspects’ (Daily Mail, 30/4/2010)

£80m bill for obesity: Benefit claims
by those too fat to work soared
under Labour (Daily Mail,
14/02/10)

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







18



‘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.


The ‘working poor’

19

Measuring child poverty


In UK
-

poverty line
-

60% of median income per week
,
after housing costs.













20

DWP (
2012)
Households Below Average
Income 2010/2011

Type of family

Median

income

In poverty

Couple, no children

£351

£214

Single,

no children

£205

£124

Couple, 2 children

£582

£349

Single, 2 children

£431

£278

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?

21

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

Relative income poverty: Percentage of children in households
with income less than 50% of median

22

Young people’s family and peer
relationships (
Unicef
, 2007)

23

Behaviours and risks (
Unicef
, 2007)

24

Behaviours and risks (
Unicef
, 2007)

25

Wilkinson & Pickett (2009)

26

Inequality gap

27

Inequality rather than income is the
problem in developed countries

28

Blaming the victim?

29


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


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)




30

31

32

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


Diminished

cultural, economic and social
capital


Can possibly link to
cycles of disadvantage

















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





33

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



34

SIMD data
-

Glasgow map

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/SIMD


35

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


36

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


Children

Persistently poor

Temporarily

poor

Not poor

Language development concerns

21%

16%

12%

General development concerns

17%

13%

9%

Social, emotional and
behavioural difficulties

23%

17%

7%

Multiple disadvantages

28%

19%

13%

Education gap at age 3

37

‘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?


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


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?


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.

Deprivation in early years has long
term effects

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)

What do
you
think…

What will
happen
if…

How can
we…

Why is
this…

Have you
thought
about…

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?

Financial
factors

Environmental
factors

Individual
and family
-
level factors

Practice
-
level
factors

Practice level factors

Foster resilience and
coping strategies in
children and parents

Having high expectations
and aspirations

Supporting the
educational attainment
of parents and children

Promote high levels of
engagement in children’s
education

Delivering services in a
localised way

Delivering personalised
support through key
workers and ‘trusted’
individuals

Creating mixed cohorts
of advantaged and
disadvantaged children

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


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


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


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

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


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)


Five was of supporting parents/carers
(
Catapano
, 2013)

Parenting

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

Talk to parents about
the importance of their
involvement

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

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

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

Make the curriculum
materials accessible/
jargon
-
free

Learning at home

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

Show activities
parents can do at
home

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

Build on the knowledge
and skills children
develop at home

Offer resources
which parents can
borrow

Make the curriculum
materials accessible/
relevant/ jargon
-
free

Communicating

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

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

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

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

Children’s voice
-

how
can they contribute?

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

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…

“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
)