Children from disadvantaged backgrounds share their more privileged peers’ belief in the importance of education but lack confidence in their ability to perform from an early age, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said today.
Publishing a series of studies on the links between educational outcomes and poverty, the JRF said tackling under-performance in schools required a much greater policy focus on social deprivation and inequality.
The studies rejected the idea that less advantaged children undervalued education. But they found more deprived children felt less in control, more under pressure and “got at” by teachers at school, and had a strong awareness of their social position – and the disadvantages it conferred – from an early age.
The JRF also highlighted the fact that poorer children had less space to do their homework and had less help from parents, because of a lack of time and resources, further undermining the confidence of more disadvantaged pupils.
The foundation said much education policy had focused on improving the quality of schools and teaching, yet these factors were responsible for just 14% of the variation in achievement between children, with the rest accounted for by children’s experiences and backgrounds.