News and Support from The NASUWT
The financial pressures faced by families as a result of the Coalition Government’s social and economic policies mean pupils are coming to school hungry, tired, sometimes sick and unable to learn and concentrate.
A survey commissioned by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has found teachers reporting children coming to school hungry and unable to concentrate, exhausted from living in cramped and inadequate housing and unable to afford to join in activities such as school trips.
Teachers are seeing pupils coming to school unwell because their parents can’t afford to take time off work, more and more parents are being sent letters home for not paying for school meals and pupils coming to school without proper clothing and footwear.
In total, 2,452 teachers responded to the survey about their experiences over the last year.
When asked about how financial pressures affect pupils, 72% said they were more likely to be absent from school, 65% said they were less able to concentrate in lessons, 60% said they caused behaviour problems and 40% said they felt alienated and disaffected.
Housing was reported as a significant problem, with 22% of respondents saying they knew of pupils who had lost their homes due to financial pressures, and 32% saying they had taught pupils who were living in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“These are truly shocking statistics that show the lives of children and young people are being blighted and degraded by poverty and homelessness.
“Teachers and other public service workers are struggling to pick up the pieces caused by this Coalition’s economic and social policies.
“Poverty and homelessness take a physical and emotional toll on children. They often cannot concentrate when they are in school because they are tired and hungry, have no space to do homework and have to travel long distances to get to school from temporary accommodation. They are likely to suffer more ill health and absenteeism.
“Schools cannot be expected to pick up the pieces and have to overcome the profound adverse impact of poverty and homelessness alone.
“The Government has a responsibility to tackle, not generate, poverty and homelessness.”