‘Distressing New Levels’ of Child Poverty Hitting England Schools

Child poverty in England classrooms hits ‘distressing new levels’:

Child poverty in schools has increased to ‘distressing new levels’ according to the National Education Union, with teachers in England painting a ‘harrowing picture’.

A total of 1026 members of the teaching union responded to a poverty poll at the end of November, with three quarters of participants coming from secondary education and a quarter from primary.

The results found that 46 per cent of teachers say that holiday hunger is worse now than three years ago and 63 per cent say more families than ever do not have the money for winter clothes or appropriate footwear for their children.

Worringly, 53 per cent of teachers think that children will go hungry over Christmas, with parents losing access to free school meals. But it’s not just families on out of work benefits who will struggle.

“We give free school dinners to children who don’t qualify for FSM [free school meals] because their parents work but have contacted us to say they have no money that day,” one teacher wrote in response to the research.

Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, Dr Mary Bousted said the Government has ‘failed’ to recognise the ‘human’ cost of school cuts and savings to other children’s services.

She said: “This is a Dickensian picture of the poverty that far too many children and their families are having to endure. 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.

“The Government 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 1 in 5 workers.

Poor quality housing, including temporary accommodation and overcrowding is causing major issues according to 46 per cent of teachers. And, 40 per cent of those who work in schools say they are having to pay for extra items for children and their families out of their own pockets.

Poverty is also affecting children’s access to education, with teachers saying its consequences affected attendance, behaviour, concentration and health. The union noted there were also fears about things would ‘deteriorate’ further with Universal Credit.

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