Nine simple things teachers can do to ensure the poorest students don’t get left behind

Common school practices can inadvertently identify or exclude students who come from poorer families, whether it’s by allowing other students to know a child receives free school meals, asking pupils to wear branded uniform or running prohibitively expensive residential school trips. iNews reports.

Poverty Proofing the School Day is a programme developed by the charity Children Northeast over the last seven years to look at the barriers to learning for disadvantaged students. Schools register for the scheme, and then an audit takes place, during which a team speaks to children their experiences at school.

i spoke to Luke Bramhall, School Research and Delivery Lead for Children North East, about what how schools have been working to ‘poverty proof classrooms’ and improve outcomes for disadvantaged students, and what teachers can consider doing to make poorer students feel more included. There are many things schools can do, and the below are just a few examples:

Changing how free school meals are delivered – such as on school trips, where students who receive free school meals often get their food in a brown or white paper bag, identifying them as FSM students. A number of schools have since addressed this, says Mr Bramhall. “In one school, they went to the local charity shop and got a random selection of lunch boxes so when students get their lunch, it is a lunch box. This means when they are walking along with their friends, everyone has a lunch box.”

Considering how uniforms are bought – “Some schools have gone to the local supermarket and checked it is selling jumpers in the school colour. In some cases they don’t, so either they have to request that they will, or consider the colour of their jumper. In the grand scheme of things, the colour of the jumper isn’t going to make a great deal of difference for the school, but the difference it can make for a child who doesn’t have the jumper to fit in, who feels as though the don’t belong to the school day – that is significant.”

How resources for food tech are delivered – At some schools, students who don’t bring the ingredients they need in don’t get to participate in food tech classes. They will often have to sit and write out a recipe or go to a different class instead. “There’s a loss of learning there – students won’t learn the skills they were meant to be in that class for. “We’ve been in schools where the food has been provided, but then at the end of the lesson if you didn’t pay for it then it went in the bin, which is just cruel.”

Read more ways to help disadvantaged pupils in school Nine simple things teachers can do to ensure the poorest students don’t get left behind

Does your school use similar ideas? Have you any more suggestions? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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