A leading headteacher has called on the government to take urgent action to tackle child poverty warning that schools are setting up food banks to feed hungry pupils.
Judy Shaw said some pupils were arriving at schools hungry, tired anxious and unable to learn because of their home lives.
And she has called on the Department for Education to recognise the situation schools are facing.
Quick read: Teachers are using foodbanks
Ms Shaw, who becomes president of the NAHT heads' union this weekend, said: “I am going to call on the government to look up from their Brexit dossiers and have a good look around them and see what is happening to the children.
“We need recognition, we need understanding, we need compassion and we need immediate support. Schools are providing not just breakfast clubs which they have done for years but they are building foodbanks in schools. They are providing snacks during the day.”
She told Tes that the NAHT has had testimony from schools that they are having to create food banks for deprived pupils.
And she said that some pupils at her school in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire were arriving at school hungry, inadequately dressed or with holes in their shoes.
Ms Shaw, who has served as NAHT’s vice-president for a year, has been headteacher of Tuel Lane Infants School for the past 14 years.
“Most of our families get by but in the past four or five years, we are seeing poverty that I think would surprise people.
"The question I would ask people is: 'Could you concentrate on your learning if your belly was rumbling, you hadn’t had restful sleep and you were cold, your feet and socks were wet, you felt grimey?' Well no you couldn’t.
"Could you take part in a lesson with interest and enthusiasm if you have seen your parents crying or desperate, frustrated, angry or if you felt anxious, or fearful or embarrassed or ashamed? No, you couldn’t.”
Ms Shaw told Tes that one of the aggravating features of the school funding crisis was that schools were being forced to find money from their own budgets to pay for support services for their most vulnerable children.
“This Christmas, after school I am wandering through the corridors and there are my staff wrapping up piles of Christmas for a family who we knew were living very close to our school with no electricity and no running hot water and they were wrapping Christmas presents up to take around for the three children.
"While I applaud their compassion and I am proud of them I am also absolutely appalled and outraged that they have got to do that in the 21st century.”