Teachers are increasingly giving food, clothes and money to pupils living in poverty, research has found.
A survey of more than 3,250 teachers by the NASUWT union found eighteen per cent had lent or given money to pupils or their families. More than a quarter had personally given food to hungry pupils and 15 per cent had given them clothing.
The union has carried out the survey for the past three years and it says the problem of financial hardship has risen each year. Almost three quarters of respondents said they had seen pupils coming to school hungry and more than half said they had seen pupils unable to afford uniform.
More than a third said they had seen pupils leave school in the middle of a term because they were forced to leave their homes.A teacher responding to the survey said: “Pupils have left for the end of term only to return one or two weeks later wearing the same dirty and damaged uniform.”
Another reported pupils “living in inappropriate homes, sharing beds [and wearing] damp smelling clothes as they have been unable to dry them.” The findings have been published as the union gathers for its annual conference in Birmingham this weekend.
NASUWT,general secretary, Chris Keates, said: “It is hardly credible that this is happening in one of the world’s largest economies. Poverty is a key inhibitor to educational progression and schools simply cannot be expected to tackle these issues alone.”
A government spokeswoman said ministers were "committed to working to eliminate child poverty and improving life chances for children."
"Thanks to our reforms there are more people in work than ever before and the number of children growing up in workless families is at a record low," she said.
She said the government had introduced universal infant free school meals and an extra £10m per year for breakfast clubs to make sure children received nutritious meals.