Thursday, 9 February 2017

Reducing stigma: poverty education in Curriculum for Excellence

We have some more good news from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who estimate that one in five children in Scotland live in poverty, with the figure rising to one in three in the urban centre of Glasgow. " With more and more families falling into relative poverty and the numbers of working poor rising, the newly branded `JAMs` (just about managing) are in some cases not managing, having to decide between heating their house or feeding their families."

These facts and figures were produced in a report from the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection at Stirling University.

In the same report the Stirling University group went on to say: ` Many children suffer from low self-esteem and feel the invisible burden of the stigma that the label of `poverty` places on them.` In addition, they say, children affected by poverty suffer from a number of disadvantages that more affluent children do not, including lower attainment and poorer physical and mental health.

Having said that I can add that surprisingly the invisible burden is not experienced by many children:
"Many children, even from the poorest backgrounds do not recognise themselves as being in poverty. This is something highlighted in research conducted by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), which looked at child perceptions of poverty, and expressing these through alternate methods such as art."
But that is something the study attempts to put right by engaging educational professionals in poverty discourse. By that means the researchers would put the invisible burden that poor children do not actually experience well and truly on their shoulders. The study places its endeavour in the overarching framework: Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC).
"We know that poverty can have an adverse impact on wellbeing and on learning, and that children who live in poverty are more likely to be absent from school. However, education professionals are largely excluded from the discussions which child welfare officers, social workers, doctors and third sector colleagues are already having around the health and wellbeing of children who are living in poverty."
 Wow. ! Look at all those people who are emboldened in the paragraph above who ARE having discussions about children living in poverty. How many of them are screaming: `We must end poverty now ?`

Answer: some of them are, but not enough of them are. What do the academics at Stirling University have to say about it, whose remit is to study children`s wellbeing ?

Well, absolutely nothing about demanding the end to poverty. What they do say is that educators, that is teachers in schools, should use more creative methods to explain poverty to children and that includes  - as if teachers do not already have enough to contend with -  art, dance and storytelling to help explain to those children who do not understand that they are in poverty how to share their experiences. Think about that.

Art, dance and storytelling is to be used to explain poverty in a classroom where some pupils are ok and some pupils are not.  As if that was not bad enough, here comes one of the most sickening paragraphs in the study:
"Using creative ways of communicating and engaging with children has already been found useful in helping them to talk about other issues personal to them, such as trauma or abuse. Researchers from the Scottish University Insight Institute-funded research team employed similar methods, using art, drama and play to help children express their feelings on poverty, and how it could be tackled in their communities. Children acted out scenarios, wrote poems, and created a number of pieces of tactile artwork, including sculptures and drawings."

They go on to say that: "Effective discussion could go a long way to helping children open up about experiences of poverty and also help them to be more understanding of other children who are living in poverty, reducing stigma and encouraging positive action within their local communities."


We are going to have GIRFEC integrated into Curriculum for Excellence and the Named Person integrated into Curriculum for Excellence, and let us not forget the Wellbeing Indicators integrated into Curriculum for Excellence. What else? We are going to have youth work integrated into Curriculum for Excellence and death and dying integrated into Curriculum for Excellence as well as the Army Cadet Force.. .That last three are a nice combination for some.

We`re also going to have social and emotional learning integrated into Curriculum for Excellence. And we`re going to have poverty integrated into Curriculum for Excellence with the poor subjected to ritualistic opening up `confession` sessions in front of their classmates who will be encouraged to feign concern but who will actually hold them in contempt.

We`re going to have so much embedded in Curriculum for Excellence that there will be little room for an actual education.


  1. Unfortunately most of the links on here are now dead:

    I will have saved a copy of that last paper at the time but it is properly lost I'm afraid.

    I did post some longer quotes over here though:

  2. Unfortunately most of the links on here are now dead:

    I will have saved a copy of that last paper at the time but it is properly lost I'm afraid.

    I did post some longer quotes over here though: