This is the fifth of a series of five blogs about why listening to pupils is key to tackling the cost of the school day. The ‘Poverty Proofing’ process was designed by CPAG’s project partners Children North East. Poverty Proofing Practice Advisor, Francesca Hogg, describes the child-centred values that underpin this approach.
Poverty Proofing is a unique process which takes a children’s rights approach to tackling poverty in education, putting children’s voices at the centre of our work. We believe every child’s experience is important and should be listened to, because if a policy or practice negatively affects one child, then it is not an equitable school day. That’s why we try and speak to every pupil in the school to understand their experience of the school day and how poverty can impact that. Speaking to every pupil means prioritising what’s important, because the people most affected are telling us what they want their school to focus on. And involving everyone means finding the right solutions for each school.
Another important element is understanding the context of individual schools and their pupils, because we know that poverty affects children and their communities differently. A ‘one size fits all approach’ does not work. Ultimately, tackling these barriers is different for every school, depending on its demographic, geography and context. What works in one school might not work in another, but taking a whole school approach allows us to find out what the school community thinks the problems and solutions are.
When we combine the collective voice of children, we are able to build a picture of the barriers to participation in each school, which leads to change. We are able to identify common practices and policies that affect children living in poverty, and learn from children and young people what good practice looks like. This leads to simple changes to policy and practice, which in turn leads to equal access to all the fantastic opportunities the school day has to offer.