Working in the schools team, one of the most fun times of year to be in school is in December. The excitement has seemed tangible during recent school visits where we’ve seen glimpses of the festivities getting into full swing. Dress rehearsals for the Christmas play, preparations for class parties and glitter everywhere from Christmas crafts.

As part of our poverty proofing work we often invite teachers and support staff to try to put themselves into the shoes of the poorest child in their class and imagine what a typical day at school would be like for that child.

A couple of years ago the Schools Team got together with a group of young people to create a video ‘A Day in the Life of Kieran’. You can watch it here

Things that might seem small at the time, but things which all add up over the course of the day

The video takes the viewer through a typical day in the life of a fictional character, eight-year-old Kieran. The story of Kieran’s day is based on barriers to learning that we’ve heard about from the pupils and students we work with.

We follow Kieran as he arrives at school feeling hungry and with no money for breakfast club. We see him watching his peers as they buy snacks in the tuck shop at break time, then later we see him missing out on PE because he hasn’t brought his trainers but he doesn’t want to tell his teacher that they’re broken. We watch as Kieran’s day unfolds with one thing after another. Things that might seem small at the time, but things which all add up over the course of the day.

What’s it like to dread circle time when the teacher asks everyone to share with the class what they got for Christmas?

Girl decorating Christmas Tree

As I watched the recent Christmas preparations and celebrations my mind turned to Kieran. What might the last few weeks of school have been like for him? What’s it like when you go to the winter fair but all you can do is walk around and watch because all of the activities cost money? How does it feel to see your teacher hugging and thanking your class mates when they give presents on the last day of term? What’s it like to have to stand in the back row during the carol service because you’re the only person who isn’t wearing a Christmas jumper?

What would Kieran’s experience of Christmas be like? What about coming back to school in January? What’s it like to dread circle time when the teacher asks everyone to share with the class what they got for Christmas? To hear your class mates talk about gifts of new games consoles and mobile phones and watch them comparing their new scented, glittery pencil cases or branded trainers? How does it feel to be asked to write about what you did during the holidays and listen to stories of trips to pantos and ice skating when you mostly just stayed in the house?

 Instead of asking children what they’ve done or what they got, could we ask them to share their favourite moments?

Looking at things from Kieran’s perspective it makes me wonder what we can do to ensure that all children have the best possible experience at school at this tricky time of the year. Our Poverty Proofing ethos states:

"No activity or planned activity in schools should identify, exclude, treat differently or make assumptions about those children whose household income or resources are lower than others."

So what can we do? Can we find a few minutes over the first week back to speak to children on a 1:1 basis, to give them our full attention and an opportunity to tell us about their experiences if they are excited to do so? During circle time instead of asking children what they’ve done or what they got, could we ask them to share their favourite moments or activities that they can remember from last term or what they are looking forward to at school over the next term? How can we ensure that all children feel included and not stigmatised by having less financial resources?

For more information about Poverty Proofing, visit our website: www.povertyproofing.co.uk

How you can help us

Please select a donation amount: *
Set up a regular payment Donate