Child poverty means something different to different people, as it can be ‘measured in varies ways’ (Full Fact team, 2015). One way to describe child poverty is when the environment the child is living in, is “damaging their mental, emotional, spiritual and physical development” (UNICEF, 2004) Child poverty at a basic level means that parents cannot afford the necessities of food, clothing and shelter. Child poverty statistics are rising in the UK; there are currently more than 4 million children considered to be living in poverty. With the number of children in poverty is expected to increase to 5 million this year, the situation is failing. (The Children’s Society, 2020, Online) Approximately, one third of the children in the UK are perceived to be living in poverty. To relate this to a classroom environment, this means that about 9 children in an average classroom of 30 children live in poverty. (The Children’s Society, 2020, Online) Throughout this essay, I will be evaluating the impact poverty has on educational opportunities as I believe it is one of the main issues we face in education.
Primary poverty means not being able to afford to meet their basic needs for example, not being able to afford food, clothing and housing. This level of poverty is considered ‘living below the poverty line’. (Relative vs Absolute Poverty: Defining Different Types of Poverty, 2018, Online) Secondary poverty is when individuals earn just enough to cover their basic needs but spend a small amount of it on “coping mechanisms” to cope with financial and work-related stress but still end up struggling to manage. (Relative vs Absolute Poverty: Defining Different Types of Poverty, 2018, Online) Relative and absolute poverty are two types of poverty. Absolute poverty is when a household income is under a certain amount which makes it difficult for families to meet the basic needs of life that includes housing, clean water, food, education, and healthcare. Relative poverty is when households receive fifty percent less income for their household than normal meaning, they have some money, but it is not sufficient enough to buy anything that cost more than the basics. However, depending on the economic growth of the country, relative poverty can be improved. (Relative vs Absolute Poverty: Defining Different Types of Poverty, 2018, Online)
Children poverty is harmful to children, to their chances of life and to communities. Child poverty has a negative effect on children as it has an impact on children’s being able to enjoy their childhood and to fulfil their goals. (The effects of poverty, Online) Children living in poverty are at a disadvantage as they are going to school hungry, being bullied at school for wearing old uniform, or losing out on activities with their friends. More than a quarter of children from the poorest families have stated they were bullied because their parents were unable to cover school costs. (The Children’s Society, 2020, Online) However, this is not to say that it is has stopped children from achieving as many have gone onto achieving great things, but it has not been an easy process for these children as they are living in unsuitable housing or sleeping in a cramped bedroom, going to school on an empty stomach and missing out on opportunities. Children from low-income households frequently miss activities and school trips. (The effects of poverty, Online) This is unfair on those young children living in poverty as they will have to go through extra lengths to provide themselves with a good future. This suggests that pupils from poor backgrounds have to put in extra effort to be able to catch up to their peers and not fall behind. This shows the inequalities poverty forms in education for pupils. There may not be the same opportunities for children from poorer backgrounds as other young people their age. They may not have access to the same learning opportunities, or they may miss out on going out with their friends because they simply cannot afford it. Many of those young people living in child poverty will have to work part-time jobs alongside school. They will have to work harder to overcome the barriers that modern life throws in front of them. According to Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) 72% of children who grow up in poverty live in a household where at least one parent works. (Child poverty facts and figures, 2020, Online)
Many working families who have low paid jobs, and zero-hour contracts have to live with just enough for the basic, immediate necessities. With the Covid-19 crisis, people in poverty face further difficulties in the face of rising costs and loss of income. (Covid-19, low incomes and poverty, 2020) Also, due to the Covid-19 crisis, there have been job cuts, school closures and more bills, this will have a big impact on child poverty. With school closures, this has placed an additional strain on low-income families that are already struggling would be impacted by additional expenses for children being at home with school closed while possible experiencing lower income, unemployment or not being able to work due to childcare. Also, with closure of schools, this has made food shortages worse and for majority of poorer pupils, it means losing out on nutritious daily meals. (Covid-19, low incomes and poverty, 2020) As a result, those living in poverty either had no home schooling at all or found it extremely difficult to study at home and because of this pandemic, the education gap has expanded, and many vulnerable children will fall behind. (The State of Child Poverty 2020 | Buttle UK, 2020, Online) Overall, the pandemic has plummeted almost 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children into poverty. (Butler, 2020, Online)