“Every day involved at least one pupil who was staring poverty in the face”: Why I joined the Poverty Proofing Team

Sarah Hughes

In our latest guest blog, Poverty Proofing Co-ordinator Sarah Hughes shares why she left a career in teaching to join the team and her experience of joining Children North East.

It is the first time I have been paid to spend time writing a blog. With my background as a teacher, I used to write material as models for my classes, but to be directed to write, for the purpose of others to read it, just because – rather than having to – is something I have to keep pinching myself about. 

Writing is just one small part of why I am glad I joined this charity. My role as a Poverty Proofing Co-ordinator has enabled me to step outside of the classroom and be plunged into the real workings of schools; I cannot believe how much I didn’t know, I didn’t know – despite thinking I did.  

My main focus was to move away from the academic side of working with young people and attempt to be a catalyst in real, systemic change. Every single day of my teaching career involved at least one pupil who was staring poverty in the face; holding the hand of poor mental health, or teetering on the brink of not wanting to exist. This is the true epidemic. This is the reason I could no longer amble on, hoping others would pick up the pieces, so long as these children got their target grades. 

What Poverty Proofing the School Day has introduced me to is the ability to connect with so many people. Children are unafraid of voicing how they feel; highlighting the unfair and inadvertent exclusion that schools often work so hard to avoid. Staff are working tirelessly, more so now than ever, to ensure every child has a wealth of opportunities. But by having the gift of voice, to hand that voice to greater power, it illuminates so many dark corners; it gives hope and drives the change that is needed in society. This role is more than I ever could have written down on paper about what I want to spend my days doing. 

But for now, I’ll write this blog, and smile!