Lori Beckett continues a series of blog posts on the upcoming edited volume, Child Poverty in Wales: Exploring the Challenges for Schooling Future Generations.
There’s strength in numbers. The Bangor PLUS team’s commitment to build a place-based action study on Trem y Mynydd sat well with other city-based teams doing similar work and trying to forge a multi-cities ethnography to build some policy clout and provoke some changes. This international project came about as a result of recommendations from our British Educational Research Association (BERA) Commission on Poverty and Policy Advocacy, which was matched by the work of colleagues in the equity network of the Australian Association for Educational Research (AARE). The teams were sharing research intel, including similar foci on child poverty, its causes and effects, policy studies and practitioners’ case stories. We learned much, not only about commonalities but also various national policy emphases, not to forget global neoliberal policy influences.
The Bangor PLUS team agreed our focus would be Poverty and Human Rights for the multi-cities ethnography, and we set about to develop the contours of our signature argument. Being well versed with certain children’s exclusion from the local primary school, our focus of attention came to be children’s access to schooling and we were guided by questions about what facilitates and/or denies this; how poverty impacted on it; in what ways, if any, were there infringements/violations of human rights; and who/what should bear/share the responsibility. This interrogation was not to ‘blame the victim’ nor engage deficit readings, but to highlight the reality gaps between the lived experiences of poverty, Wales’ various political parties’ manifestos, and Welsh Government’s legislation, especially anti-poverty policies rolled out in school-communities. We came to see these gaps can be bridged by practitioners’ preferred local solutions, which effectively means responding educatively to matters of basic human rights.
Lori Beckett is now semi-retired as Visiting Professor at Bangor University, and is academic partner to a local school-community (given the pseudonym Trem y Mynydd) in Gwynedd.