Teachers have blasted the Tory Government’s “callous fiscal and social policies”, after a damning survey revealed that an increasing number of poverty-stricken children are arriving at school hungry and unable to concentrate in lessons.
A survey of 3,250 teachers by the NASUWT, the largest teacher’s union in the UK, shows that a growing numbers of teachers and schools are being left to “pick up the pieces” of draconian austerity measures.
Teachers and schools reported having to step in and provide food, equipment and clothing for pupils. While others found themselves having to offer financial advice to parents struggling to cope with Tory cuts.
Almost three-quarters of teachers reported seeing children coming to school hungry, with over a quarter generously giving food to starving pupils. More than half had seen their school do the same.
According to the survey, 41 percent of teachers have given financial advice to parents or have referred them to external advice services.
More than a half said they had seen children whose parents were unable to afford school uniform. 15 percent had even resorted to giving clothing to children, and 59 percent reported seeing their school do the same.
And almost two-thirds of teachers say they have lent equipment to pupils, while half had seen their school do so.
Teachers say housing is an increasing issue, with over a third saying they have seen pupils who have been living in temporary accommodation.
A quarter say they know of pupils who have lost their homes, and over a third reported seeing pupils forced to leave school mid-term after losing their homes.
Over half of teachers say financial pressures felt by families have led to rising levels of anxiety among pupils. Nearly three-quarters report pupils being absent from school and nearly two-thirds say pupils have exhibited behaviour problems.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “It is clear that teachers and schools are being left to pick up the pieces of callous fiscal and social policies.
“Poverty is not incidental to teachers. It is a key inhibitor to educational progression and schools simply cannot be expected to tackle these issues alone.
“This year’s survey confirms the trend of the previous two years that the position is worsening.
“As the survey shows, 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.
“Homelessness leads to ill-health and absenteeism when the distance and cost of travelling to school from temporary accommodation is prohibitive.
“Teachers and support staff are mending clothes and washing uniforms, providing food and equipment. It is hardly credible that this is happening in one of the world’s largest economies.
“Yet despite this evidence of misery the Chancellor continues to cut public services which are the only remaining lifeline for many children and families.”