Children, Poverty, Wellbeing and Learning

As a teacher and an educator your first concern is with the wellbeing of the children. How can they learn if they’re tired, frightened, upset, ill, anxious, distracted or hungry?

We often talk about the need to listen very carefully to what children tell us about themselves, their siblings and their friends. Recent Guardian articles, including one published today, have highlighted the effects of poverty on our children:

What poverty means to children

To accompany Save the Children’s first survey into poverty in the UK, award-winning photographer Spencer Murphy records the view from one east London borough

by Jon Henley

According to Save the Children, which commissioned the series to mark the publication of its first ever domestic appeal and survey of child poverty in the UK, Britain’s poorest children are bearing the brunt of the recession and spending cuts, while families on modest incomes are increasingly struggling.

The report, based on interviews with 1,500 children and 5,000 parents, half of them in areas of high deprivation, found that one in eight of Britain’s poorest children are going without at least one hot meal a day, and 43% had seen their parents cutting back on food and clothes.

Some 15% have to go without new shoes, 14% are denied a warm winter coat and 23% are missing out on school trips because parents cannot afford them. Nearly 30% of parents say they cannot afford to have their children’s friend round for tea, and 10% of children cannot celebrate their birthdays.

The charity aims to raise £500,000 to help its work in the UK, and is calling on government to encourage more employers to pay the living wage, strengthen the new Universal Credit welfare system and help parents afford to work by providing extra child care support. Poverty, says Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive, “is tearing families apart”.

Children’s views of poverty: in pictures

Save the Children launches campaign to help UK families in poverty
Save the Children is seeking to raise £500,000 to help children from low-paid working families, who it says are going without hot meals and winter clothes


Save the Children launches campaign to help UK families in poverty

Save the Children is seeking to raise £500,000 to help children from low-paid working families, who it says are going without hot meals and winter clothes

by Patrick Butler

Launching its appeal, which bears the slogan It Shouldn’t Happen Here, the charity said: “It is shocking to think that in the UK in 2012, families are being forced to miss out on essentials like food or take on crippling debts just to meet everyday living costs.” Asked whether an anti-poverty fundraising appeal was necessary in the sixth richest country in the world, Chris Wellings, Save the Children’s UK head of policy, said: “Poverty in the UK is different to some of the poorer countries in the world. It is more nuanced and poses different problems. But it does not mean that we cannot stand up for children’s rights in the UK.”

Save the Children plans to spend money raised on its Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play programme, which gives cookers, beds and other essential household items to families living in poverty, and its Fast scheme, which helps low-income parents to provide provide at-home educational support to their children.


Please take a look at the Save The Children website:

Right now, in this country, children are going to school hungry because they don’t get a proper breakfast. They go through winter without a warm coat or a decent pair of shoes. Some even have to sleep on a damp mattress on the floor because they don’t have their own bed.

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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4 Responses to Children, Poverty, Wellbeing and Learning

  1. Imagine if we actually taxed corporations and the wealthy, and saw to it that everybody can earn a living wage. We’d have far less need of charity and fundraising appeals. I would imagine it will be middle- and lower-income people who primarily will be the ones to give to Save The Children.



  3. Find this topic interesting especially when today I have been musing on what happened to Every Child Matters, remember it?
    Be healthy
    Stay safe
    Enjoy and achieve
    Make a positive contribution
    Achieve economic well-being

    It may have been sacrificed on the alter of league tables because it appears to have been forgotten. I hope I am wrong but I can not find the evidence.


    • 3D Eye says:

      Good point, Kevin. Since “Every Child Matters” was a creation of New Labour it’s not surprising that the New Government makes no reference to it. In fact the coalition seems to be very angry with Save The Children for highlighting the issue of poverty in the UK and its effects on children and their wellbeing, their achievements, etc. That said, it would be a very good thing if the current Labour leadership did more to emphasise the importance of children’s health, safety, enjoyment of school and life in general.

      To be fair to Stephen Twigg, he did make a speech at The Children’s Society back in May in which he said that schools can do a fantastic job of supporting children and developing their potential, but that they are only one element in a child’s life. “He called for a more comprehensive and holistic approach to children and young people, to ensure they are able to make the most of their potential.”
      Also back in May Mr Twigg posted some thoughts about “living below the poverty line” on the Labour List website:

      Mr Twigg obviously thinks that every child still matters, and that poverty in the UK is unacceptable – as it is elsewhere in the world – but we need him to show his commitment to getting rid of our increasingly ludicrous 16+ exam system as well as the league tables, and educating the rest of his party colleagues towards an understanding that children’s wellbeing at school is best served through proper tracking of achievement in all of the intelligences and the use of formative assessment, instead of relying on exam pressure at 16 to motivate children. Personally I’d like him to say we should adopt the approaches that serve Finnish children so well, and if he doesn’t think we should then to explain why not. In Finland they understood decades ago that every child matters and that inequality of provision as well as inequality of opportunity is just unacceptable.


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