United Kingdom

Deprived Families 


Why do we seek to improve the outcomes for deprived families?


There is currently no agreement on the definition of a ‘Deprived Family’ but there is cross political party support that there are families where work needs to be undertaken to improve the educational outcomes for children in these families and, perhaps equally importantly, to reduce the cost of this group to the public purse. Defining which deprived families to focus on varies between sectors:


  • The education sector has tended to look at families where children are on free school meals;
  • Social Services have tended to look at families where children are ‘in need’, on the edge of care or families where children are abused; and
  • Successive governments concerned about riots and antisocial behaviour have looked at ‘troubled families’ that cause problems and come into contact with the Criminal Justice Service.

Ultimately, all sectors are talking about the same families, often with multiple challenges.  Each policy is trying to pigeon hole each family where it might be more useful to accept that these families have multiple challenges that manifest in varying behaviours. 


The KPMG Foundation has funded programmes aimed at unlocking the potential of children in deprived families in the following categories:


  • Education: Every Child a Reader; Every Child Counts;
  • Family Intervention Programmes: Tower Hamlet Family Intervention Project; School Home Support;
  • Early Years Intervention: ICAN ‘Early Talk’, Jeely Piece Nursery Scotland; and
  • Criminal Justice Intervention – DePaul ‘Through the Gate’; Exeter Community Initiatives ‘The Revolving Door’.


The KPMG Foundation is recognised for its focus on early intervention and educational attainment.  We have partnered with other trusts and foundations who are equally committed to this area: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Comic Relief, Shine, Monument Trust, Henry Smith Charity and corporate partners such as Man Group, Barclays, Axa, Deutsche Bank and Lehmans.


Research has shown that: ‘The very brightest 22 month old working class kids were inexorably overhauled by the very dimmest children of professional or managerial parents – apparently by the age of about seven, and emphatically by the age of 10.’


Paul Marshall (former Every Child a Chance Trust Trustee) reports in “The Tail” that 1 child in 5 reaches the age of 16 lacking the basic skills in literacy and numeracy that are vital for future success.  This group represents 103,000 per year.  Not all these families will be identified by school as ‘at risk’ if the Free School Meal measure is the only one used as they may be just above the FSM threshold. 


The CBI undertook an ‘Education and Skills Survey’ in 2011 of 566 employees: 65% of employees (367) stated there was a pressing need to raise standards of literacy and numeracy amongst 14-19 year olds.