A new project has been launched by the Northern Alliance to shape what’s done to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap by capturing the voice of children and young people with lived experience of poverty.
Teachers and practitioners from the eight local authorities which form part of the regional improvement collaborative are being made an offer of collaboration to work directly with seconded officers who are leading this area of work. Officers will then work with them throughout the “Our Voice” project, beginning by organising online workshops to raise awareness about poverty-related issues and encouraging them to reflect upon the barriers to learning child poverty creates.
Those practitioners will then be equipped with the means to have sensitive conversations with young people and capture their thoughts and views on poverty in our urban, rural and island communities. The project is starting out on a small-scale pilot basis to begin with, and the intention is to make this available more widely once the approach has been tried and tested.
Jo Kirby, who’s seconded from Moray Council to lead this work alongside Scott Calder from Aberdeenshire Council said: “Our thinking is that the insight we gain from young people will be used to inform how schools in an empowered system can work with partners, industry and the wider community to explore how the barriers created by poverty can be overcome.”
Scott who’s working alongside her added: “It’s a collaborative project aimed at reducing the barriers to learning that child poverty causes. Social isolation and exclusion are considerable issues for those experiencing poverty leading to low aspiration, little social mobility and less favourable outcomes post education. But it’s important we understand more about why, directly from those who are experiencing it, who can then also potentially help us to identify the best solutions.”
In time, it’s hoped the outcomes of this project will also be used to offer better direction as to how Pupil Equity Funding should be spent.
Helen Budge from Shetland Council who is now lead officer for the Northern Alliance commented: “We’re really passionate about finding new and innovative ways to improve the life chances of children and young people, and ensuring equality of opportunity is a huge part of this. All our bairns, regardless of where they live or how much money their family has, should be given the same chances to flourish.”
“Our Voice” is a long-term project which can be used as part of schools’ improvement cycle. Teachers and practitioners keen to find out more about opportunities to take part as the project expands should email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com by Friday 20 March.