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Poverty and education
Working with parents to close the
attainment gap

Helen Barnard, February 2014
The link between poverty and education
• Children growing up in poverty much less likely to do
well at school
– Gap in pla...
JRF’s education programme
• Education and poverty programme since 2005
– Understand reasons for attainment gap
– Explore p...
Drivers of the early attainment gap
• Big gap between richer and poorer children by age 3
– By 5 children in poverty c.8 m...
Attainment gap among 3 year olds

E.g. Reading,
learning
letters/numbers,
nursery
rhymes/songs,
counting,
painting/drawing...
The power of good quality services
• Effective Provision of Pre-School Education longitudinal study
shows;
– Home learning...
Services and parents together
• Working with parents = one way high quality
services make a difference
• For most it isn’t...
Aspirations are generally high
• Low income families mostly have high aspirations
• When children are born, 97% mothers wa...
How is parental involvement effective
• Little evidence effect comes from raising parents’
aspirations or changing their a...
Most interventions pre-school/primary
transition
• Home instruction for parents of pre-school youngsters
(US)
– Language, ...
The impact of targeted parental
involvement
• For example Family Learning Programmes focusing
on literacy
– Parents read t...
Key issues for parental involvement
• Impact of interventions very mixed
– Depending on exact content, context, groups inv...
Principles for effective engagement
• Engage with parents on own terms
– Cultural mismatch common
– Formal parents’ evenin...
Contact details

Helen Barnard
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Tel: 01904 615946
Email: helen.barnard@jrf.org.uk
Twitter: @Hele...
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BECERA 2014 Helen Barnard Keynotes

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BECERA 2014 Helen Barnard Keynotes

  1. 1. Poverty and education Working with parents to close the attainment gap Helen Barnard, February 2014
  2. 2. The link between poverty and education • Children growing up in poverty much less likely to do well at school – Gap in place by 3yrs – Expands during primary school – By 16: 35% FSM children get 5 A*-C GCSE vs 62% of others • Low qualifications = less likely to work, more likely to have low earnings • Major factor driving poverty in adulthood – And for the next generation of children
  3. 3. JRF’s education programme • Education and poverty programme since 2005 – Understand reasons for attainment gap – Explore potential solutions – Test ideas vs robust evidence • Understanding drivers of the gaps – Quantitative research across age groups (published 2010) • Look at the role of attitudes, aspirations and behaviour – International reviews + primary research in England and Scotland (published 2012)
  4. 4. Drivers of the early attainment gap • Big gap between richer and poorer children by age 3 – By 5 children in poverty c.8 months ‘behind’ • 2 elements of this ‘gap’ – Cognitive attainment – Social and emotional development • For cognitive gap, ‘home learning environment’ makes a big difference • Other differences have no clear link to cognitive development – But do affect social and emotional development – Especially health and well-being
  5. 5. Attainment gap among 3 year olds E.g. Reading, learning letters/numbers, nursery rhymes/songs, counting, painting/drawing E.g. Family closeness, conduct problems, relating to other children Home learning environment Health and well-being Family interaction Parenting styles E.g. Birth weight, breast feeding, mother having depression E.g. Regular bed times and meal times
  6. 6. The power of good quality services • Effective Provision of Pre-School Education longitudinal study shows; – Home learning environment is important BUT – High quality pre-school and primary education can compensate – Especially for children from deprived backgrounds • Very impressive effects High quality pre-school + High quality primary school = Difference as big as having a mother with a degree vs with no qualifications
  7. 7. Services and parents together • Working with parents = one way high quality services make a difference • For most it isn’t about changing parents’ attitudes or aspirations • Giving better information, support and advice
  8. 8. Aspirations are generally high • Low income families mostly have high aspirations • When children are born, 97% mothers want them to go to university – Difference richer and poorer is in how likely they think it is – By age14; only 53 % of the poorest families think their child will attend higher education – 81% amongst the richest • Sometimes expressed in negative attitudes • Study in three deprived communities: 85% of pupils aspired to university – Only half that many expected to get university qualifications • Most wanted professional, managerial, skilled jobs – Labour market couldn’t meet demand!
  9. 9. How is parental involvement effective • Little evidence effect comes from raising parents’ aspirations or changing their attitudes per se • Equipping parents of young children for developmental activities – Reading, games, verbal interaction – Resources, ideas, support, training • Enabling & encouraging parents of older children to – Support at home learning – Discuss academic activities – Understand requirements and choices
  10. 10. Most interventions pre-school/primary transition • Home instruction for parents of pre-school youngsters (US) – Language, problem solving, logical thinking, physical, emotional and social skills – More enriched home environment (reading materials etc.), higher parenting ‘self-efficacy’, higher maths scores (but not reading scores) • Family literacy initiative (UK) – 12-week basic skills course for parents, early literacy development for young children – Gains in vocabulary, reading and writing & maintained after 2yrs – Parents better equipped to support children in reading/writing
  11. 11. The impact of targeted parental involvement • For example Family Learning Programmes focusing on literacy – Parents read to children: extra 2 months progress (similar effect for National Literacy Strategy) – Parents trained to listen to their children read produced: extra 4 months of progress – Parents teach specific reading skills to their children: over a year’s progress
  12. 12. Key issues for parental involvement • Impact of interventions very mixed – Depending on exact content, context, groups involved – Reasons unclear • Recipe not yet certain – Active ingredients, ‘dosage’, sub-group effects – Need for good monitoring & evaluation methods • Key features seem to include – – – – Genuine collaboration between parents & facilitators Flexible models of partnership with parents in different contexts Interventions across school, home & other settings Well structured programmes, support for parents to minimise drop out
  13. 13. Principles for effective engagement • Engage with parents on own terms – Cultural mismatch common – Formal parents’ evenings do little to overcome • Think about who can do this do this and settings to use • Develop relationships, tailor to community • Build parents’ capacity to support learning
  14. 14. Contact details Helen Barnard Joseph Rowntree Foundation Tel: 01904 615946 Email: helen.barnard@jrf.org.uk Twitter: @Helen_Barnard More information: www.jrf.org.uk/work/workarea/education-andpoverty

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