Challenge Poverty Week 2015

Poverty remains one of the most serious problems facing children today. Its effects last a lifetime, negatively impacting on health, education, social and physical development and seriously harming future life chances and opportunities. Challenge Poverty Week aims to raise awareness of the experiences of people living in poverty in Scotland today, and what can be done to reduce the numbers of children living in poverty and its harmful impacts. 

One way early years professionals can reduce the negative impacts of poverty on the lives of children and their families is to poverty proof their services.  Below gives areas for considerations when conducting a poverty proofing process.

1.    Understanding individual context

  • Exploring each part of the service in turn to establish where costs lie for children and families
  • Understanding levels of poverty nationally and locally

 2.    Analysing the impact of service costs (using reflective questions)

  • Thinking about each part of the service, where do problems or barriers lie for children and young people from low income households? i.e. getting to an appointment
  • Thinking about each part, what impact do current policies and practices have on family budgets? i.e. are families expected to provide their own equipment?
  • Do deprivation related patterns exist in children’s uptake of your service?

3.    Gathering good practice and identifying areas for improvement

  • Thinking about the problem and barriers identified, what do we currently do to avoid or overcome these? How well does this work?
  • Which areas need more attention or different approaches?

4.    Action planning

  • Developing an action plan to consolidate existing good practice and address areas for improvement, with commitment to monitor and regularly evaluate the impact of changes made with children, staff and parents.

Reflective questions to support the poverty proofing process in a school (Information provided by Child Poverty Action Group Scotland)  


07:00 Getting dressed for school

08:00 Travelling to school

  • Are all eligible parents receiving clothing grants?
  • What impact is the current school uniform policy likely to have on low income children and young people?
  • Do we know what parents think about the cost of uniform?
  • Is the school communicating affordable options to parents successfully?
  • Are parents able to pay in instalments?
  • How is the school currently approaching non-uniform compliance with pupils?
  • How can uniform based bullying be reduced?
  • Are rewards linked to the consistent wearing of school uniform?


  • What effect are travel costs likely to have on low income families in the school?
  • Do transport costs affect attendance and late coming?
  • Do we know what parents think about transport costs?
  • Thinking of the full range of activities provided at school, who takes part in them? Are there patterns by postcode?
  • Which activities are likely to incur additional travel costs and are there alternative ways to do them?
  • Are there ways in which travel can be made more affordable for low income families?

09:15 Learning at school

10:30 Friendships at school

  • What do children and young people need to pay for?
  • If a child or young person didn’t have resources, how would school policy or individual practices impact on him or her?
  • What is school policy on lending resources and is this applied consistently?
  • Which young people take which subjects at certificate level? Are there patterns by postcode in subjects which incur additional costs? 
  • How does income affect friendships in the school?
  • Are there ways to minimise or control differences in what children have and bring to school?
  • Is the basis of poverty based bullying named and discussed? 
  • What kind of awareness-raising actually works for young people? What could changes attitudes and behaviour? 

11:00 School trips

12:40 Eating at school

  • Who goes on trips? Are there patterns by postcode?
  • Do we know what parents think about the cost of trips?
  • What proportion of our trips are subsidised?
  • What system is in place to provide subsidies to pupils and what effect might this have on them? 
  • How are trips spaced out across the year?
  • How aware are staff of external funding sources for trips?
  • How can we minimise pressure on low income families while still offering a range of opportunities and experiences to children?
  •  How are parents made aware of the free meal application process? Are there parents in the school less likely to manage the process? What support is available?
  • What is breakfast club uptake like and why? Are there ways to boost uptake?
  • How are communications around moving on and off of the free meal list managed between the council, the school and families/children? 
  • Do young people understand everything that they can get for £1.70?
  • How can free meals be given in a non-stigmatising way on trips?

14:00 Fun events

16:00 School clubs

  • Who does and doesn’t take part in fun events? Are there patterns by postcode?
  • Is attendance affected by fun events at school?
  • How are fun events spaced out across the school year and how much notice is provided?
  • Are additional costs for transport and food considered when planning events?
  • What happens when young people want to take part but don’t have the money?
  • How can fundraising be done in schools so that children don’t feel stigmatised for not donating?
  • How can fun events be designed so that everyone is involved and nobody feels left out?
  • How can staff help pupils with costs without them having to ask? 
  • How can fun events take place without pressure being placed on children to pay and sticking out for not doing so?

  • Who does and doesn’t take part in clubs? Are there patterns by postcode data?
  • Are there hidden transport, equipment or materials costs in clubs provided?
  • Are there ways to remove costs for equipment and travel?
  • Are there ways for clubs to offer an exciting range of opportunities while staying free or very low cost?

19:00 Home learning

  • What proportion of children have ICT access?
  • How are children supported to complete ICT based homework? Are there alternative ways to complete homework?
  • Where can children and young people access computers and the internet in the school and the local community? Do they know about this?
  • Could home craft tasks be putting financial pressure on families? Are there alternative ways to approach tasks?
  • What is school policy on lending resources and is this applied consistently?
  • How is homework linked to systems of reward and/ or discipline?

00:00 Understanding and attitudes towards poverty

  • How much do staff know about poverty, its impact and the local context? What would be useful to discuss and explore as part of professional development?
  • Have children and young people had the opportunity to discuss issues surrounding poverty and how it affects them? How can we build on young people’s interest and willingness to address these topics openly and empathically?
  • How much do you know about parent’s opinions and experiences on these issues?
  • In general, how are parents told about financial support available to them?


Examples of changes which have been made as a result of poverty proofing services.


  • Explaining entitlements or grants to all service users rather than just those assessed as ‘in need’ 
  • Where possible creating an ‘op out’ policy for entitlements rather than ‘opt out’
  • Providing or promoting activities which are free of charge
  • Providing information about financial support in more prominent positions – in waiting areas, on website and in other communications


There is a range of activities organised as part of Challenge Poverty Week. Find out more on the Poverty Alliance website.  



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