Best Practice

Poverty on the brain: Five strategies to counter the impact of disadvantage in the classroom

What does disadvantage do to our cognitive functions and what can we do about this as teachers? Poverty researcher and teacher Sean Harris examines emerging research findings on poverty, the implications for the classroom, and five strategies we might adopt in response

Research continues to indicate that disadvantage is growing. The most disadvantaged are hit hardest by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on learning (Adfam, 2020; Bambra et al, 2021; Marmot, 2021; Montacute & Cullinane, 2021).

There have been many and varied responses throughout the pandemic to tackle the emerging social issues presented by poverty in our school communities. However, the complex effects of disadvantage in our classrooms go beyond access to opportunity and food banks.

In recent years, growing numbers of researchers have sought to understand the ways in which poverty has an impact on the cognitive and neurological functions of children.

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