Narrowing outcome gaps for children living in poverty

An effective child poverty strategy needs to go beyond a focus on income and economic well being. Narrowing the gaps in other core outcomes is also vital. Raising the educational attainment of children and young people is particularly important.

People born in 1970 who 'bucked the trend' by doing well as adults despite being born into poverty tended to :

  • have parents with some level of qualifications
  • have been read to by their parents
  • have parents who showed interest in their development
  • have attended schools with higher achieving or more advantaged peers

Tackling poverty early and within the family is important, including support to develop the parenting and basic skills of families while children are young. Early years practitioners have a particular role to play here.

Schools are also critically important both to raise the attainment of children in poverty and to work with parents and carers to support their children's education. This is especially important in schools in disadvantaged areas.

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There needs to be both targeted support to places (e.g. to improve local neighbourhoods and communities) and to people experiencing poverty. This includes extra support for groups most at risk of poverty (see interactive) .

It is also important to tackle health inequalities , as growing up in poverty can have serious consequences. Families with health problems are at greater risk of poverty.

Reflection points

Consider the following in light of your own service:

  • What role do you play in helping parents to develop their own skills and support the education of their children?
  • Do you know how to help families to access the education and skills support they need?
  • What role do you play in meeting the health needs of children and their families?
  • Do you know how to help families to access the health support they need?
  • Do you know what factors increase the chances of a family experiencing poverty? How do these factors affect the families you work with?

Poorer children are one third as likely to get five or more good GCSEs as their wealthier counterparts, and young people from unskilled backgrounds are five times less likely to enter higher education than those from professional backgrounds.

Allen, L. (2003) Schools beyond the classroom: managing collaboration for social inclusion, London: New Local Government Network. p 7

Further reading

  • Allen, L. (2003) Schools beyond the classroom: managing collaboration for social inclusion, London: New Local Government Network.

  • Axford, N. (2008) 'Developing congruent children's services to improve child well-being', Child & family social work, vol 14, no 1, pp 35-44.

  • Blanden, J. (2006) 'Bucking the trend': what enables those who are disadvantaged in childhood to succeed later in life? (working paper 31), London: Department for Work and Pensions (available at http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/WP31.pdf ).

  • Cortis, N. (2008) 'Evaluating area-based interventions: the case of communities for children', Children & society, vol 22, no 2, pp 112-123.

  • Kendall, L., O'Donnell, L., Golden, S., Ridley, K., Machin, S., Rutt, S., McNally, S., Schagen, I., Meghir, C., Stoney, S., Morris, M., West, A. and Noden, P. (2005) Excellence in Cities: the national evaluation of a policy to raise standards in urban schools 2000-2003 (DfES research report 675A), London: DfES (available at www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR675A.pdf ).

  • Machin, S. and McNally, S. (2006) Education and child poverty: a literature review, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation (available at www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/9781859354773.pdf ).

  • National Evaluation of Sure Start (2008) The impact of Sure Start Local Programmes on three year olds and their families (Sure Start report 027), London: DCSF (available at www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/NESS2008FR027.pdf ).

  • Marmot review (2010) Fair society, healthy lives London: DCSF (available at www.ucl.ac.uk/gheg/marmotreview ).

Machin, S. and McNally, S. (2006) Education and child poverty: a literature review, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Allen, L. (2003) Schools beyond the classroom: managing collaboration for social inclusion, London: New Local Government Network

Blanden, J. (2006) "Bucking the trend": what enables those who are disadvantaged in childhood to succeed later in life? (working paper 31), London: Department for Work and Pensions

National Evaluation of Sure Start (2008) The impact of Sure Start Local Programmes on three year olds and their families (Sure Start report 027), London: DCSF

Cortis, N. (2008) "Evaluating area-based interventions: the case of communities for children", Children & society, vol 22, no 2, pp 112-123.

Marmot review (2010) Fair society, healthy lives

See the early years e-resource for more information about narrowing the gap in outcomes

See the early years e-resource for more information about family based support for learning

Kendall, L., O'Donnell, L., Golden, S., Ridley, K., Machin, S., Rutt, S., McNally, S., Schagen, I., Meghir, C., Stoney, S., Morris, M., West, A. and Noden, P. (2005) Excellence in Cities: the national evaluation of a policy to raise standards in urban schools 2000-2003 (DfES research report 675A), London: DfES

Axford, N. (2008) 'Developing congruent children's services to improve child well-being', Child & family social work, vol 14, no 1, pp 35-44.