Teachers 'increasingly offering food and money to pupils going hungry'

A teaching union has said 65% of teachers have observed more pupils coming to school hungry.

Teachers ‘picking up pieces’ of cost of living crisis amid ‘rise in pupils coming to school hungry’ iStock

A teaching union has warned teachers are increasingly providing food and money to pupils coming to school hungry amid the cost of living crisis.

The NASUWT say schools and teachers are being left to “pick up the pieces” despite their own financial hardships.

Members say they are providing money, food and clothing to help children and families as they struggle to cope with the rising cost of household bills.

The teaching union said 65% of teachers who responded to the survey said more pupils are coming to school hungry.

The findings from the NASUWT also revealed that 58% more pupils did not have what they need for lessons and 55% more families were unable to afford school uniforms.

Lack of footwear and damaged or dirty clothes were also highlighted as rising concerns for teachers, with 57% saying more pupils did not have the clothing that was appropriate for school.

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Teachers said pupils’ behaviour, energy and concentration were all being impacted by the increasing financial hardships facing families.

The survey found 67% of participants said they had given food or clothing to their pupils, with a further 27% saying they had helped a pupil’s family find access to a food bank.

The union also revealed 23% had lent or given money to pupils.

In response to the research, Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “At a time when many teachers are already struggling financially, they are routinely digging deep into their own pockets to provide urgent help to their pupils.  

“However, it should not be left to schools and teachers to pick up the pieces of the cost of living crisis or to provide from their own budgets financial help and assistance to families in desperate need.

“The responsibility should rest with ministers, not with schools, to tackle poverty and ensure families are able to send children to school ready and equipped to learn.”

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Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official Scotland, said: “There can be little doubt that the cost of living crisis is harming pupils’ education, learning and development.

‘The financial worry and anxiety that many parents are already experiencing is also being felt by children.’

Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official Scotland

“It is outrageous that we should be seeing more and more families who are struggling or unable to feed, clothe or keep a roof over their children’s heads.

“The financial worry and anxiety that many parents are already experiencing is also being felt by children and is likely to have a negative impact on their education.

“It’s vital that schools and wider children’s services are funded to provide more by way of support, advice and counselling for children, parents and carers who are struggling.

“An immediate step forward which would assist struggling families would be for the Scottish Government to commit to the introduction of universal free school meals for all pupils.”