Poverty Proofing© Wallsend Jubilee: “Taking part was another way to ensure we are offering a school experience in which everyone feels valued.”

Wallsend Jubilee Primary

Wallsend Jubilee Primary is passionate about creating a school experience that makes everyone feel valued. The school has a strong track record of supporting its diverse community of children, 39% of whom are eligible for free school meals, with Ofsted recently praising the leaders and staff for their understanding of its disadvantaged pupils.

What could this school, already engaged with the unique challenges of their pupils living in poverty, gain from the Poverty Proofing© process?

Catching up with Joanne Tappenden, Pupil Premium Leader, and Rebecca Hawkins, Deputy Headteacher, this message shines through from the start.

Joanne explains, “We don’t want any of our pupils to miss out on the opportunities that could give them the best start in life or feel pressured by situations they encounter. Before we took part in Poverty Proofing© the team already had some great practices in place promoting an inclusive school day, but we thought taking part would give us the chance to hear new perspectives, new ideas and identify different ways of doing things.”

Rebecca continues, “We approached Poverty Proofing© as a way of adjusting and amending our current ways of working, rather than wiping the slate. Our advice to anyone starting on the journey is to be open to the process, but we also wanted to ensure everyone had ownership over the parts which impacted them rather than imposing from the top; from staff and pupils to families and governors.”

Making changes at a speed that carefully considers ‘what is right for the school’ is a recurrent theme in our conversation, with staff creating ‘space for debate’ and being thoughtful about the pace in which they ask new ways of doing things of parents. However, there has also been a flurry of creative actions off the back of the school’s report, addressing the ‘little things’ that can make a big impact on a pupil’s day-to-day experience.

“There were some things that felt easy to address and after getting the pupils perspective we wanted to act on quickly”, shares Joanne.

“The school photo process will be revised so that students now ‘opt-in’ and discreetly get their picture taken. This removes the pressure of buying prints from families and children don’t face feeling uncomfortable knowing they are having a photo taken their families won’t be able to afford.”

Other initiatives we are going to pursue include allocating money from Pupil Premium funds to pay for music tuition when a student shows a real passion; changing the way birthdays are celebrated so there isn’t pressure on students to bring in treats from home; doing donation drives for a dress up box so all students can participate in costume activities; and launching a drop-in for families to access money management and benefits advice.

One exciting area that has taken off is the appointment of ‘Eco Warriors’ in every class, who have recently managed a swap shop and play an important role in reducing the stigma around recycling uniform.

“We want the students to see it as normal to reuse and recycle and the uniform project is something they’ve definitely embraced. There are permanent donation boxes which they help us sort and organise. We

want to develop an environment that isn’t materialistic and where pupils value the ‘free’ opportunities in life. Eco Warriors has been a great addition to that culture.”

In keeping with the step-by-step approach, they are exploring a range of other ways to support families, from savers schemes for parents to reviewing their behaviour policy to ensure it doesn’t create additional barriers for children dealing with challenges outside of school.

Asking about the value the process has given Wallsend Jubilee, the importance of discussion comes up.

Joanne explains, “The training for staff really hits home and engages you in the challenges faced by pupils living in poverty and their families. This sets up discussion between different members of the team and we saw them sharing case studies of their own experience with pupils that would otherwise never have been highlighted.

“In the long-term, taking part was another way to ensure we are offering a school experience in which everyone feels valued, and the process has been an important part of our journey towards achieving that goal.”