Teachers have warned that growing levels of poverty across England are having a devastating effect on pupils, with more children going hungry and being unable to afford warm clothes this winter.
The findings from the National Education Union paint a harrowing picture of day-to-day poverty in schools. Teachers say that a lack of food, poor housing and unsuitable clothes are overwhelming pupils and cash-strapped schools. it warned that these conditions were having a crippling effect on the children’s capacity to learn and grow, with increasing absences, behaviour problems, and feelings of shame.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the union, described “a Dickensian picture” of poverty: “The government is out of touch with the distressing new reality of children’s daily lives: with what it means to live without enough money for basics such as food, shoes and adequate clothing. It has failed to recognise the human cost of its cuts to schools and other children’s services and to the social security system, and its failure to address the in-work poverty faced by one in five workers.”
The study found:
The report also raised concerns about in-work poverty and housing issues such as high rents, homelessness, and insecurity, as well as fears about how the rollout of universal credit would exacerbate the problem. In addition, it found schools were providing pupils with sanitary items and Christmas presents, and paying for school trips as well as travel to and from school. It even found some schools are providing household items, such as beds, bed linen, and curtains.