This section should guide you through delivering Youth Social Action (YSA) through the topic of Poverty at Key Stage 3 (KS3).

Poverty is a human rights violation. Every woman, man, youth and child has the human right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, food, clothing, housing, medical care and social services.

Schools have a responsibility to tackle poverty and promote equality of opportunities. Using social action this is an opportunity for young people to learn how they can get involved in schools and community projects that mitigate the effects of poverty. This approach can be very empowering for young people who will be making a difference.

Definition of poverty

“Poverty means not being able to heat your home, pay your rent, or buy the essentials for your children. It means waking up facing insecurity, uncertainty, and impossible decisions about money every day. It means facing marginalisation – and even discrimination – because of your financial circumstances. The constant stress it causes can lead to problems that deprive people of the chance to play a full part in society.”

United Nations Definition of poverty 

“Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination, exclusion, and the lack of participation in decision-making.”

Food poverty is commonly defined as ‘the inability to acquire or consume an adequate or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so’.

Fact Sheet – Food Poverty 


The legal definition of homelessness is that a household has no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world available and reasonable to occupy.

Fact Sheet – Homelessness

Poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty means that the income level from employment is so low that basic human needs can’t be met.

Fact Sheet – Financial Poverty 


Digital poverty is “the inability to fully interact with the online world, when, where and how an individual needs to”. 
Three of the biggest factors contributing to digital poverty and enabling the digital divide are: 
  • Financial poverty causing digital poverty (exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis)
  • Access, which can be the result of geography
  • Skills, including lack of education.


Fuel poverty is the condition by which a household cannot afford to heat or cool their home to an adequate temperature.

Save the Children defined the so-called :

“Educational poverty”, describing it as a process of eliminating children’s right to education and deprivation of their opportunities to learn and develop the skills they will need to succeed in a rapidly changing society. …

The Convention has 54 articles covering all aspects of a child’s life and sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights all children everywhere are entitled to. It also explains how adults and governments must work together to ensure all children can enjoy all their rights.

Delivering Poverty Through the National Curriculum

Guidance for teachers and staff on how to talk about poverty to pupils.

It is likely that pupils taking part in social action projects in this focus area will likely be suffering or would have suffered from poverty. This section offers practical advice to approach social action planning on poverty. Talking about poverty with pupils is useful because it helps teachers to understand young people’s experiences of poverty. It also helps to reduce stigma and negative attitudes toward young people who may not have experienced or know what it is. In both cases, careful consideration must occur at the planning stage to ensure that it is carried out through an inclusive ethos by providing that pupils experiencing poverty do not feel exposed.

  • Create a safe space to talk. Ensure pupils have opportunities to approach you and talk about poverty privately.
  • If discussing poverty in the classroom or with groups, be mindful not to expose pupils who do not want to be identified as living in poverty. Make pupils aware that you do not want names at the start of the conversation.
  • Avoid having these conversations at the end of the day. That way, pupils can come back to you later in the day if they have concerns.
  • Use clear and straightforward language. Try to have the conversations in bite sizes.
  • Art, drama and play can help pupils express their feelings and personal experiences without feeling stigmatised or singled out by classmates.
  • You can start the conversation with younger children using a story, character or puppet.
  • Address pupils’ feelings. Learning about poverty can make pupils sad and emotional. Let them know it’s natural to feel this way. Try to end positively (for example, “we’re finding ways to help”).
  • Remodel any negative language pupils might use by rephrasing what they say.
  • Provide pupils with different perspectives. Children often repeat everything they hear at home, including misconceptions about people in poverty. It can be difficult to discuss, but it’s important to recognise that we live in a world of great inequality while still focusing on hope.
Youth Social Action teaching through Poverty

Lesson Plan

Learning objective: Pupils to understand the meaning of poverty.

Skills objective: Recognise and develop empathy skills.

Additional resources 

Powerpoint Presentation to guide through Lesson 1. 

Lesson Plan

Learning objective: Pupils to understand the impact of poverty

Skills objective: To think of possible solutions and justify your responses.

Additional resources

Powerpoint presentation to guide 

Lesson Plan

Learning objective: To understand the process of debating

Skills objective: Preparing and participating in a debate.

Additional resources 


Lesson Plan

Learning objective: To understand the potential causes of poverty

Skills objective: Understanding teamwork and the importance of working together.

Additional resources 

Lesson Plan 

Learning objective: To understand how change can be made when passionate about Social Action.

Skills objective: Present your findings.

Additional resources 


Lesson Plan 

Learning objective: To understand the use of language to make a point.

Skills objective: To be able to articulate how you feel using language.

Additional resources