One in Four Welsh Children Trapped in Poverty as Parents Pass on Their Low Expectations

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Byline: By Darren Devine Western Mail

More than one in four of all Welsh children are trapped in poverty, according to major research unveiled today. The study by progressive think-tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation also found that nearly a decade of attempts by the Assembly Government to break the link between poverty and poor educational achievement have had little impact

David Egan, who completed the research, suggested far more needs to be done to break the vicious circle of parents with few or no qualifications passing on low expectations to their children.

He said schools in disadvantaged areas must become the focus of measures that take in the root causes of underachievement for the 27% of Welsh children living in poverty.

The worrying research comes just a day after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded standards among Welsh teenagers were among the worst in the developed world.

Professor Egan, of the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Uwic), said new strategies had to be developed outside the classroom.

"I argue very strongly in the report that we've got to do more with these children outside the school, in terms of supporting them through community schooling.

"We need to give them extended opportunities outside the school day, using the school as a base.

"But also in terms of working with their families and family learning. It has to be about a total response - it can't just be about what schools can do with them."

But Mal Davies, the National Union of Teachers' (NUT) secretary for Cardiff, said funding for an Assembly project designed to get poorly qualified families back into education had dried up.

The "Community Focused Schools" programme encouraged adults to go on courses at their local schools to stimulate their interest in education.

Mr Davies, head teacher at Willows High School, Cardiff, said the scheme was very successful because those who took part began taking a much keener interest in their own children's education.

Mr Davies, whose school has a large proportion of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, added, "I always say it's the triangle of success, which is the close links between school, home and pupil. If you're all giving the same messages you're OK.

"But on our own individually we won't meet with success at all.

"It doesn't take much to get parents who haven't done well in school to get a sense of success. When they learn something it does really turn their attitude to education around and they're far keener to support their child's education then."

According to today's report, up to two thirds of the 180,000 Welsh children living in poverty are from South Wales because the geographical distribution of deprivation is uneven.

The report Combating Child Poverty in Wales: Are Effective Education Strategies in Place? …