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NAHT says education can be the key to springing the poverty trap

The latest report into poverty and social exclusion from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that people on low incomes are not feeling the benefits of economic recovery.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “This report is of great concern. The number of young people in poverty is increasing. There is a generation of young people leaving school and finding themselves in low paid, zero hours contract and part time work and still below the poverty line.

“The report suggests that only a fifth of low paid employees moved on from low paid work completely ten years later. It’s clear that access to an empowering education is vital.

“NAHT has said before that poverty does not inevitably cause educational underachievement. However it is inextricably linked to factors that also harm education. For instance, there’s now a significant proportion of families with two working parents who are sometimes working more than one job each just to make ends meet. In so doing, they find themselves ‘not quite poor enough’ to qualify for help from the system. Within the context of this report, it is these families that NAHT has particular concern for. Parents under this kind of pressure may struggle to play a fully effective role in their children’s education.

“If there is not a rapid political acknowledgement of the realities of modern poverty today’s school children face a mountain to climb if they are to exceed their parents’ achievements and build a life free from poverty for themselves. It can be done. But it can’t be done without help.

“NAHT has successfully campaigned for higher levels of funding in Early Years to pay for a higher standard of teaching and to raise attainment. All the evidence shows that the earlier you start to tackle poverty, the more lasting the outcomes.

“Whichever political party holds power after the general election, further cuts to public services remain a risk. NAHT believes that funding for education and early years should be protected, in order that the current generation of children don’t leave school to face the same low standard opportunities as we see today.”

NAHT’s manifesto for education contains five key points that we believe all political parties should sign up to:

  1. The establishment of a college of teaching, which would support all teachers to exercise best practise in the classroom
  2. The introduction of an office of education responsibility to devise and manage a five year plan for reform, driven by the profession and based on evidence of what works in the classroom.
  3. To prioritise early years in funding and status
  4. To promote a self-improving school system where school leaders lead critical reviews of schools, working in partnership with Ofsted and not at odds with it
  5. Ensure fairer admissions policies which fast-track pupils from low-income families
You can read the NAHT manifesto for education in full here.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report is available here.

Page Published: 24/11/2014