Teachers are digging into their own pockets to provide basic classroom resources and essentials for their pupils, a survey has found.
The results, which were released by the NASUWT teaching union as delegates gather for its annual conference in Belfast, came from responses from 4,386 teachers.
Some 20 per cent of teachers said they buy lesson resources with their own money once a week, and 12 per cent said they did so more often.
Stationery, arts and crafts materials and books were the most common purchases.
One teacher said a deputy head once told them to buy £10 Nandos vouchers for each year group as a behaviour incentive.
They said: "It was not to be reimbursed and something I was ’expected’ to do. I also bought a high-quality printer at £300 as the department was ’banned’ from printing to ’save costs’”.
“The expectation is we purchase things ourselves as our job is a vocation. I'm fed up of hearing this over and over again. It's never enough and am ready to leave.”
Asked why they had bought resources from their own money, 53 per cent of the teachers cited funding pressures on their school, while 30 per cent said the resources provided were out of date or unsuitable, and 28 per cent that their school had the money but chose to spend it on other things.
Two-thirds of teachers said they were never reimbursed for such purchases and 30 per cent were only reimbursed in part.
In addition to schools resources, 45 per cent of teachers spent their own money buying basic necessities for pupils in the last year, with 75 per cent having purchased food, 29 per cent toiletries and 23 per cent clothing or shoes.
One teacher said: “The worst thing to experience as a teacher is watching a hungry child who is in receipt of free school meals, having to stand and watch their friends eat breakfast before school or have snacks at morning break when they are hungry."
They said they use their credit on the school's prepayment system to give children cheese on toast or a hot drink, or any other hot food.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Evidence shows that many teachers are facing financial hardship themselves as a result of year on year pay cuts, and yet faced with increasing child poverty some are shouldering further financial burdens to support their pupils.
“Teachers care deeply about the pupils they teach and will go to great lengths to ensure their needs are being met.
“Teachers once again are being left to pick up the pieces of failed education, social and economic policies.”
Minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi said: “There is more money going into our schools than ever before, and since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every five to 16 year old in every school and made funding fairer across the country.
"However, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers make the most of every pound on non-staff costs.
“Tackling disadvantage will always be a priority for this government. Employment is at a record high and wages are outstripping inflation, but we know some families need more help. That is why we are making sure that more than a million of the most disadvantaged children are also accessing free school meals throughout their education – saving families around £400 per year."
He said education secretary Damian Hinds had "made clear that, as we approach the next spending review, he will back head teachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education".