Education outcomes of children living in homeless households

The research led by ADR Wales Housing and Homelessness Academics Dr Ian Thomas and Dr Peter Mackie linked statutory homelessness data from the City and County of Swansea with education attainment data and the Welsh Demographic Service to begin to explore how children and young people living in homeless households fair educationally.

Currently there is scant quantitative evidence in the United Kingdom on the links between education and homelessness. Information that exists on the links between education and homelessness is based on small, qualitative studies and convenience sample surveys which do not quantify the impacts of homelessness on education.

What were the findings?

The analysis relates to children and young people in homeless households, rather than children and/or young people who have made a homeless application themselves.

Preliminary findings suggest that achievement against expected outcomes in the core areas of learning for children and young people living in homeless households appears to be lower than the national average. However achievements are potentially in-line with young people who are eligible for free school meals (FSM). These findings will be explored in further analysis.

Speaking of the research findings, Dr Peter Mackie, ADR Wales academic lead for ADR Wales housing and homelessness body of work: “The experiences of children in families experiencing homelessness are poorly understood in Wales. This study provides first insights into the educational achievements of some of these children. The study also makes an important methodological contribution by providing a method for the identification of children and young people in homeless households where only the adult head of household is recorded.

“Further detailed analysis will be undertaken to guide policy makers and schools, however the main recommendation from this report is to encourage homelessness service providers, if they do not do so already, to collect personal data on all household members.

“Having personal data on all householders opens up the potential for data linkage research which can improve understanding of the impacts of serious societal issues such as homelessness and also help us monitor the impacts of interventions. Until such point as homelessness services record data on all household members, the methodological development in this study will be key to future homelessness data linkage research focused on children.”

The ADR Wales Housing and Homelessness team are currently exporing two further analyses on the area of education and homelessness which will be published in the coming months. The first directly builds upon the exploratory study to compare education attainment of housed (deprived/not deprived) and homeless young people. The second will explore the relationship between school attendance rates and homelessness status.

The analysis was supported by funding from the Welsh Government Homelessness Prevention Fund and carried out by Dr Ian Thomas and Dr Peter Mackie, as part of ADR Wales housing and homelessness body of work. 

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