Half of school staff say child poverty and low income is having a significant effect on students’ ability to learn, according to a National Education Union survey of more than 8,600 teachers. The Independent reports.
More than half of the teachers say their students had experienced hunger or ill health as result of poverty, and more than a third (35 per cent) said students had been bullied because of it.
One teacher said non-uniform days had become “very sad days” for poorer children who are noticed by their classmates, adding that some pupils are reluctant to attend on those days.
When asked to identify classroom traits that could be linked to poverty, more than three-quarters of school staff said students had demonstrated fatigue, poor concentration or bad behaviour.
The survey, which has been released ahead of the National Education Union’s (NEU) annual conference in Liverpool, also revealed that pupils are arriving at school in worn-out, dirty uniforms.
One teacher said providing uniforms and food banks is an “everyday necessity” as families struggle. Another said that “some students have mentioned that they have not had any food for two days”.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Government does not want to hear these stories from the frontline of teaching, but they must. It is truly shaming for the UK, one of the richest countries in the world.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “A hungry child cannot learn properly and it is a disgrace that in one of the richest countries in the world so many children are being held back because of the Tories’ ideological obsession with austerity.”
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