This programme focused upon understanding the relationship between poverty, attainment and children’s mental health as a means of addressing the attainment gap, articulating with the Scottish Attainment Challenge. The Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched by the First Minister in February 2015, and is underpinned by The National Improvement Framework, Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child.

The programme focused specifically on early adolescence, defined here as age 10-14 and representing a critical stage in children’s development. The gap in attainment between rich and poor is a global and complex problem that cannot be understood through a single lens, therefore it is imperative to bring an international perspective and a multi-disciplinary focus. The programme brought together academics, policy makers and practitioners from a range of fields in a process of knowledge exchange.

The team hosted a series of three international seminars and worked with children and young people in St Rose of Lima Primary School, Glasgow City Council and Inverclyde Academy, focussing on their sense of belonging to school.

The seminar series sought to:

  • examine, through multiple disciplines and drawing upon the perspectives of academics, early adolescents, practitioners, the 3rd sector and policy makers, how the relationship between poverty, attainment and children’s mental health and wellbeing is currently understood, particularly as it pertains to early adolescence, and how this understanding might be extended;
  • examine how a child’s sense of belonging to school impacts upon their mental health and wellbeing and attainment;
  • enable new insights to inform international and national policy about how to address the attainment gap associated with poverty;
  • create lasting networks to foster partnership working and to create opportunities for future collaborative research.

Programme Team

Dr Joan Mowat, University of Strathclyde
Professor Gale Macleod, University of Edinburgh
Dr Alastair Wilson, University of Strathclyde 
Dr Anna Beck, University of Glasgow (previously University of Strathclyde)
Graham McPheat, University of Strathclyde
Professor Stephen McKinney, University of Glasgow
Dr Louise Marryat, Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy 
Lee Knifton, University of Strathclyde, Centre for Health Policy / Mental Health Foundation Scotland
Marian MacLeod, Children in Scotland
Patricia Lyon, Place2Be
Paula Dudgeon, Senior Educational Psychologist, Glasgow Council
Professor John McKendrick, Glasgow Caledonian University
Aileen Wilson, Children’s Rights and Information Officer, Inverclyde Council
Professor Gilliean McCluskey, University of Edinburgh
Sara Spencer, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland