Increasing numbers of pupils are coming to school hungry, anxious and unable to concentrate because of family financial pressures, a teachers' union has said. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "It is clear that teachers and schools are being left to pick up the pieces of callous fiscal and social policies…poverty and homelessness take an enormous physical and emotional toll on children. They often cannot concentrate when they are in school because they are tired, hungry and anxious. Children living in poverty are more likely to suffer from low confidence and behavioural issues."
A survey found:
1. Almost three-quarters of the teachers had seen pupils coming to school hungry
2. Over a quarter had given food to hungry pupils
3. Most said their school had given food to hungry pupils
4. Most had seen pupils unable to afford uniform
5. 15% had given pupils clothing
6. 59% said their school had given pupils clothing
7. Almost two-thirds had lent or given pupils school equipment
8. Most said their school had lent or given pupils school equipment
9. Over a third had seen pupils leave school mid-term because they had lost their homes
10. Over a third were aware of pupils living in temporary accommodation
11. 41% had given advice to families on issues related to financial pressures
12. Most said financial pressures meant rising levels of anxiety among pupils
13. Nearly three-quarters reported pupils being absent from school
14. Nearly two-thirds said pupils had exhibited behaviour problems
Teachers in the survey commented:
"Many are parents working multiple low-pay jobs to make ends meet and then being unhappy at not being able to give the support of being there for their children.
"More children telling me that there is no-one at home morning or evening or both (due to work shifts), and I have had to give out and purchase resources like pens et cetera for more students who, in tears, are admitting that they just have nothing to get these basics."
"Some families have been so poor, staff have donated food and toiletries to help them out.”
"We have a number of children whose families have become homeless or at risk of losing their homes.
"Due to the huge cost of housing in our area, it means that the catchment area has become unaffordable for a number of medium- and low-income families.
"This means they are forced out of the immediate area, so children have to travel further."
"The community I work in is economically deprived, so many students have uniform that is way past its best.”