A recent research study led by researchers at Swansea University indicates that community-level improvements such as increasing safety, connectivity, and employment can help to improve child’s educational attainment, mental health and reduce risk-taking behaviours.
Living in persistent poverty has a detrimental impact on child health, cognitive and behavioural outcomes. A child growing up in a disadvantaged area is more likely to receive insufficient educational support and poor-quality childcare and health support. This can have long-term implications for the child throughout their lives, putting them at greater risk of adverse health and social outcomes.
The research carried out by ADR Wales and supported by National Centre for Population Health & Wellbeing Research (NCPHWR) and Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) aimed to examine factors in the local area that contribute to the resilience of the children and can help children to improve their life.
The study comprised 159,131 children who lived in Wales, had completed their age 16 exams, Key Stage 4 (KS4), between 2009 and 2016, and had a valid Free School Meal (FSM) record. Free School Meal provision was used as an indicator of household-level deprivation.
The participants were derived by linking Wales Demographic Service Dataset (WDSD) (a Wales-wide administrative register for all individuals with a general practitioner (GP)) and education datasets in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank.
- The research found that 22% of children on FSM were doing well overall compared to 54.9% of non-FSM children.
- FSM children living in the least deprived areas are significantly more likely to do well than those living in the most deprived areas.
- FSM children living in areas with higher community safety, higher relative income, and higher access to services are more likely to do well than their peers.
Amrita Bandyopadhyay, Research Officer at the National Centre for Population Health, said:
‘Children growing up in poverty are less likely to achieve in school.’
‘This study highlights the benefits of investing in community development and local area improvements, such as promoting neighbourhood watch, improving public transport and return to work schemes, which would help local children to do well in terms of education, mental health and reducing risk-taking behaviours (alcohol/drug use).’
Read the full publication here https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2023.101370