Poverty and school education in Scotland

Published: 9 June 2023

Researchers from the School of Education have co-authored a paper on poverty and school education in Scotland.

Researchers from the School of Education have co-authored a paper on poverty and school education in Scotland.

Stephen McKinney, Stuart Hall and Kevin Lowden, along with researchers from the Schools of Education at Aberdeen and Strathclyde, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, Glasgow Caledonian University’s paper, Beyond the Pandemic: Poverty and School Education in Scotland, explores the rise in child poverty and the impact on educational attainment.

It presents a series of research findings and insights by leading researchers on the key themes in Scottish education that were highly relevant in the pre-Covid and pre Ukraine war era; themes that will continue to be very relevant in the years to come.

There have been priorities in the strategies to address the issue of child poverty in Scotland and prominent areas in research have emerged.

Research findings call for the pressing need for effective intervention, sustainable solutions and warn of the continued grave consequences of the rise in child poverty in the post-pandemic era.

The paper highlights the digital divide—i.e. the gap that exists between individuals who have access to modern information and communication technology and those who lack access—and warns that if this is not adequately addressed in the UK, there will be four million adults by 2024 who will not possess the digital skills for employment in this new age, according to Unicef, pointing out that it leaves adults unable to participate fully in society and that work must be done to ensure all children and young people are digitally empowered.

The paper also points out that while the wearing of school uniforms can help reduce stigma and non-attendance, its costs are not fully covered by the national minimum clothing grant.

The paper concludes that there are existing examples of good practice in collaborative and joined-up strategies to tackle poverty and education. The Child Poverty Bill and action has been integrated into wider measures to tackle poverty in Scottish society in recognition that poverty is an issue for society, not just schools and the impetus for the action on child poverty is within the context of aims to increase viable employment opportunities for adults, support adults into employment and increase benefits.

The Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) are a good example of an initiative that promotes focused and sustained collaboration among the local authorities for a common goal: tackling the poverty related equity gap.

The research with student teachers could be expanded to other universities and other parts of Scotland. There is the potential to raise the national minimum clothing grant to ease the hardship experienced by families on low incomes, and there is scope for other collaborative and joined-up strategies at all levels that recognise the underpinning relationship between poverty and inequity.

Read the paper in full here.

First published: 9 June 2023

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