Schools now a ‘fourth emergency service’ for poor pupils

According to TES, schools have become an “unofficial fourth emergency” service providing food, clothing and social care for poor and vulnerable children after a decade of cuts, a headteacher leader has warned.

The Association of Schools and College Leaders has published new figures today showing the extent to which schools are coping with pupil poverty.

ASCL’s general secretary, Geoff Barton, warned that a decade of austerity had broken the social fabric of the nation, leaving schools struggling to cope with the consequences.

He urged politicians to overcome their “Brexit fixation” and invest properly in schools, college and other public services.

A survey of more than 400 secondary school heads – representing more than one in 10 schools in England and Wales – has revealed a “rising tide of pupil poverty”.

Ninety-six per cent of those questioned said the extent of pupil poverty has increased over the past few years.

The ASCL survey showed:

  • 91 per cent of schools heads who responded provide items of clothing for pupils suffering from high levels of disadvantage.
  • 75 per cent put on breakfast clubs.

Sarah Bone, headteacher of Headlands School in Bridlington, said: “We have far too many children with no heating in the home, no food in the cupboards, washing themselves with cold water, walking to school with holes in their shoes and trousers that are ill-fitted and completely worn out, and living on one hot meal a day provided at school.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Everyone should have the chance to fulfil that spark of potential which exists in all of us and it a fundamental part of the Department for Education’s purpose.”

Read more Schools now a ‘fourth emergency service’ for poor pupils

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