The EIS PACT Project, funded by the Scottish Government, responds to the serious concerns of teachers about the growing levels of dire poverty amongst our children and young people.
Schools can't solve poverty, but teachers want to do more to mitigate its effects – and this Project aims to support the profession to do that.
Starting from the basis that poverty is a violation of human rights, we are currently developing a four-stage professional learning programme for teachers utilising local and international research and best practice, and incorporating learner, family and community lived experience of poverty.
Building on the EIS's ongoing Face Up to Child Poverty campaign and the valuable 'cost of the school day' work already being done across Scotland by CPAG, the Scottish Government and local councils, the programme is designed to inform and raise awareness of what more can and should be done to minimise the damaging effects of poverty in our schools.
The PACT project will embark on a pilot stage in three local authority areas in early 2020, followed by a Scotland-wide roll-out later in the year.
This ground-breaking Project explicitly recognises the impacts of both visible and hidden poverty, examines the many 'faces' of poverty in urban, rural and island areas, and supports schools and teachers in developing and soundly implementing relevant policies, in creating strongly inclusive school cultures that minimise poverty-related stigma, and adopting teaching approaches which are known to benefit children and young people from less affluent backgrounds.
In this 30th anniversary year of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the EIS and the PACT Project join U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in his outrage at the situation in the U.K.
He comments: "For almost one in every two children to be poor in twenty-first century Britain is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one."
Child poverty rates here in Scotland are set to rise to 34.5% by 2021, with Glasgow's rates already exceeding that figure at around 37% and set to rise to 42% over the same period.
Against that background, and with recent research finding young people from the most deprived communities in Scotland three times more likely to die before they are 25 than those from the wealthiest, we stand side by side with our young people and their families in making a pact to do everything we can in schools to support them in surviving the injustice that is poverty and in bringing about more equal educational outcomes for them, by developing a coherent programme of professional learning for teachers.
The EIS will be proud to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17th October at 11.45 am, encouraging members who can to join the gathering at the Poverty Stone in Glasgow's George Square, alongside the Poverty Truth Community, ATD Fourth World and Bridging the Gap.
We stand with others world-wide to honour human dignity and rights, and to highlight the struggle of so many of our young people, their families, and communities whose economic, social and cultural rights are violated by poverty.