1st Edition

Reaching the Unseen Children Practical Strategies for Closing Stubborn Attainment Gaps in Disadvantaged Groups

By Jean Gross Copyright 2022
    270 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    270 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Reaching the Unseen Children provides a powerful and accessible resource for schools working to raise the attainment of all disadvantaged pupils, with particular emphasis on white children from low-income backgrounds.

    This group – especially boys – consistently on average underperform in the education system, and the effects of COVID-19 will only have widened the gap. Drawing on her long experience of working with disadvantaged and left-behind communities, Jean Gross describes the path that many children take, from early language delays to persistent literacy and numeracy difficulties, which lead to progressive disengagement from learning. She argues that progress will only be made through early intervention and building pupils’ sense of capability, and sets out low-cost, low-effort ways in which teachers can transform outcomes for their students – through the everyday language they use, the expectations they convey, and the relationships they build with pupils and their parents.

    Providing practical, evidence-based strategies and case studies of schools with outstanding practice, this an essential guide for anyone working in education who is seeking equity for all their pupils.


    1. We need to talk about Jason
    2. Understanding the gaps: data, theories and research
    3. Myths and wrong turnings
    4. The word gap
    5. The literacy gap
    6. The maths gap
    7. The seven secrets of self-efficacy
    8. No excuse for no excuses?
    9. The importance of social and emotional learning
    10. Secrets of successfully engaging all parents



    Jean Gross, CBE, is a best-selling author and expert on children’s issues. Formerly the government’s Communication Champion for children, she has led many national initiatives to improve life chances for those who struggle to succeed in our education system. Her previous books published with Routledge include Time To Talk (2018) and Beating Bureaucracy in Special Educational Needs (2015).

    ‘An extraordinary book. It makes those ‘Unseen Children’ visible to us all with incisive arguments, an array of evidence, along with compelling personal stories. It offers anyone with an interest in education a comprehensive account of the challenges faced by so many children in our education system. And yet, it manages to remain hopeful and practical. It is both a call to arms and a helping hand to everyone in education who wants to address the disadvantage gap and make ‘Unseen Children’ seen, heard and supported to thrive.' 

    -- Alex Quigley, the Education Endowment Foundation and author of ‘Closing the Reading Gap’

    ‘When I opened the first page of this book, I already knew I would like it. I was aware it included the wonderful work of many colleagues … I was familiar with many of the interventions and ways of working described within it. I must admit it, I was biased from the beginning. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the clear, evidenced, systematic approach to developing school communities designed for the most vulnerable in our society that this book presents. Many books claim to show us how to improve schools. This is a book that draws together the many parts that will improve our schools… what this book tells us is that we must put aside our preconceptions and biases. We must look closely at the children – the real, living children in front of us; not the ones we wish we could teach. It challenges us to look under the surface and understand by "walking in their moccasins." Every child can be outstanding in something – yes they can.’

    - Megan Dixon, Director of Research and Acting Director of Education for the Holy Family Catholic MAT, CPD leader for the Liverpool and Wirral Inspire Teaching School Hub

    'This book offers a combination of research, practical tips for teachers and schools across phases, and clear reminders that there is much more to learning than simply sharing information. The relationships we build with our students, how they perceive themselves as learners, and how we teach and nurture their belief in what they can achieve are all afforded the same importance as retrieval and memory.'

    - Zoe Enser, Schools Week

    'What the author succeeds in doing through 250 pages is to bring a number of fresh perspectives to familiar territory... It is also a book of ‘Key take-aways’ which feature regularly and offer excellent summaries for busy readers... The messages are optimistic, the solutions practical - as long as we understand deeply and challenge not a few orthodoxies.' - Roy Blatchford, Blinks

    'This book really helps to get into the shoes of the poor white boys who underachieve, and to find ways to open up education for them; it pricks the conscience and stimulates practical thinking to tackle the challenges. An excellent addition to the SEND/Equality bookshelf in any school.' - Stephanie Barclay, The School Librarian