Closing the Gap: Young People's Views on Learning at School
The UK has been criticised for its inequitable education system, as student outcomes are strongly linked to parental socio-economic status. Children and young people experiencing poverty are less likely than their better off peers to leave school with good grades, which can perpetuate disadvantage in later life.\ud The attainment gap between children and young people experiencing poverty and their better off peers in the UK is widening, despite an increasing media and policy focus in this area. Poverty-related educational inequality is a complex area and there is no conclusive evidence in what works to reduce its effects. While there is a plethora of research on the impact of poverty on education, very little of it includes the voice of children and young people and/or the psychological impact of poverty on learning.\ud The importance of hearing the views of children and young people is central to educational psychology, as is social justice and facilitating access to the curriculum for all students. The barriers presented by the experience of poverty to learning are thus vital for educational psychologists to address.\ud This study used qualitative methods to explore the learning journey of Key Stage 3 (age 12-13) young people experiencing poverty in an English coastal borough. Questions from the Little Box of Big Questions 2 were used as a tool in semi-structured interviews, in addition to questions devised by the researcher.\ud Young people discussed aspects of their lives that enabled them to learn at school, and aspects that presented barriers to learning. The research used Positive Psychology, taking a strengths based approach to explore the skills young people thought they brought to education, skills they would like to develop, and how they could be supported in this. The study has highlighted themes that, if addressed, could potentially raise the attainment of children and young people experiencing poverty.