Estyn publishes a guide to help schools tackle the impact of poverty and disadvantage

13 November 2012

Today, Estyn the education and training inspectorate for Wales, publishes a good practice guide to help schools to tackle poverty and disadvantage in schools.

Effective practice in tackling poverty and disadvantage in schools provides a series of recommendations and best practice case studies for schools to follow.

Research shows that too many children in Wales who live in poverty generally do not do as well as their peers at school. They are more likely to feel anxious about school than their peers and to become disengaged at a young age. They have lower aspirations, acquire fewer skills, and in later life, they are more likely to face unemployment and to be in a low-skilled, low-paid job.

Ann Keane, Chief Inspector of Estyn says,

“Schools play a pivotal role in tackling the educational, social and emotional problems facing disadvantaged children who are brought up in poverty.

We know that the link between disadvantage and educational underachievement is strong. There is no single explanation as to why learners from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t perform as well than their peers and there is no easy solution.

What we do know is that schools can – with the right approaches, the right leadership and strategies in place – help these pupils to do well at school by developing and offering them individual academic, social and emotional support. Our report showcases a number of good practice case studies along with various recommendations which can help schools to tackle the effects of poverty and disadvantage.”

The report provides a series of recommendations for schools to follow best practice. The best schools: adopt a structured, coherent and focused approach to raising the achievement of disadvantaged learners including setting quantifiable targets; make better use of data to analyse and predict the performance of individual learners; establish partnerships with external agencies to give learners the right type or support; offer training and development for teachers so that they are better equipped and committed to tackling this problem; and secure stronger parental engagement.

Ann Keane continues,

“Every child deserves to have the same opportunities in life so that they can all have a real chance of achieving their true potential irrespective of their background. We need to break the cycle of underachievement that exists in Wales whereby some young people grow up in poverty and then find themselves becoming parents at a young age, when they haven’t had the chance to achieve the skills that would enable them to get a job and improve their outlook for the future.

“Research shows that it is at primary school that some of these children become disenchanted with school, particularly boys. But we also know that these challenges are not insurmountable. There are practical steps that schools can take to minimise the impact of child poverty on our young people and ensure that they have the best possible start in life. The report we are publishing illustrates how a number of schools in areas of disadvantage are succeeding in bucking the trend and creating real opportunities for pupils to achieve well.”

Headteachers, teachers, local authority education officers and the Welsh Government are encouraged to read the report and use the findings and recommendations to drive improvement.


Charlotte Bram
Stakeholder Engagement team
02920 446317

Notes to Editors:

  • The first report produced by Estyn in July 2011 was Tackling poverty and disadvantage in schools: working with the community and other partners.
  • This report is based on evidence from visits to schools, analysis of data and inspection reports.
  • The inspectorate used a sample of 15 schools including English-medium schools and Welsh-medium schools and schools in rural and urban areas.
  • The sample of schools included five secondary schools and 10 primary schools.
  • All schools surveyed have at least 20% of their learners eligible for free school meals.
  • Good practice case studies in the report:

- Llwynypia Primary School, Rhondda Cynon Taf
- Ysgol Melyd, Denbighshire
- Sandfields Comprehensive School, Port Talbot
- Ysgol Bryn Elian, Conwy
- Tsgol Y Castell Primary School, Carmarthenshire
- St. Woolos Primary School, Newport
- Cwrt Sart Community Comprehensive School, Neath
- Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive, Swansea
- Cathays High School, Cardiff
- Mount Stuart School, Cardiff

  • Estyn is the Education and Training Inspectorate for Wales. Our aim is to achieve excellence for all in learning in Wales. We do this by providing an independent, high-quality inspection and advice service.
  • Our vision is to be recognised through the expertise of our staff as an authoritative voice on learning in Wales.
  • We are independent from, but funded by the Welsh Government (under Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 1998).

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