Poor pupils doing remote school work on toilet roll

With 95 per cent of teachers saying their pupils lack home learning resources, the NEU is launching a fundraising appeal
26th January 2021, 7:20pm
John Roberts

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Poor pupils doing remote school work on toilet roll

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/poor-pupils-doing-remote-school-work-toilet-roll
Coronavirus: The Neu Has Warned That Poverty Has Left Some Pupils Writing On Toilet Paper To Complete Home Learning

Children are living in such "shocking poverty" that they are being forced to do school work on toilet roll because they do not have paper to write on at home, a union leader has warned.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, also warned that some disadvantaged children were embarrassed to have a camera turned on in their homes during live lessons. 

She was speaking tonight at the launch of a new appeal started by the union to provide children with the learning resources they need.


Comment: Teaching children in poverty is really difficult

Related: Why teachers are dealing with Covid poverty

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Dr Bousted said: "There is huge digital poverty in this country but there is also the poverty of children using toilet paper to work on because they don't have paper at home. Cutting boxes up so they can write on cardboard boxes because they don't have paper at home. And being acutely embarrassed because they don't have the maths equipment, the text book, the basics they need."

Coronavirus: Fundraising to help pupils with remote learning

She described the situation as "really shocking" and said that "many do not want to switch on their Zoom cameras as they don't want their other classmates to see the conditions in which they live."

NEU LIVE - Big Announcement https://t.co/1nD2hO6n59

- National Education Union (@NEUnion) January 26, 2021

Dr Bousted revealed that the vast majority of teachers in a new NEU survey said they were teaching pupils with limited or no access to learning materials at home.

Some 95 per cent of respondents to the survey said they were in this position, the union said.

And more than one in four respondents (27 per cent) told the NEU that half or more of their pupils were in this situation.

One teacher responding to the survey said: "It's not a level playing field. Children not having resources lowers their self-esteem."

Another said: "The older students struggle to buy revision guides and A-level textbooks of their own if the school cannot resource them."

A third teacher added: "Pupils would bring in work or drawings which were on flyers or sheets of toilet paper in biro due to lack of resources at home."

The NEU is now launching the Help a Child to Learn appeal with The Daily Mirror and has pledged a £1 million fund towards it.

The union said this would go towards supplying learning materials such as pens, paper, card and crayons for those pupils who do not have these remote learning essentials in their homes.

Dr Bousted said this fund will be distributed to schools as vouchers.

Schools would make their own judgements about which materials have the most impact on disadvantaged students' engagement with learning.

The NEU said that it will be initially contacting schools in England and Wales with the greatest number of pupils on free school meals.

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