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Increasing numbers of children arriving to school too hungry, tired and anxious to learn

Date: 1 Apr 2016

According to a recent survey, nearly three-quarters of teachers have seen pupils coming to school hungry.

Over a quarter of teachers surveyed stated that they had to step in and provide food for children, with more than half saying they had seen someone else in their schools do the same.

The survey by NASUWT, a British teachers union, showed that increasing numbers of children are also arriving to school anxious and struggle to concentrate due to the financial pressures their families are under.  

This year nearly three and a half thousand teachers responded to the survey, carried out annually each year since 2013. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT identified that the survey has shown issues surrounding poverty and homelessness were taking a toll on children and that teachers reported the effects of financial hardships were increasing year upon year.

When asked about how financial pressures affected pupils, more than half of teachers reported witnessing rising levels of anxiety among pupils. Nearly three-quarters reported pupils being absent from school and nearly two-thirds said pupils had exhibited behaviour problems.

Keates said: “Poverty is not incidental to teachers. It is a key inhibitor to educational progression and schools simply cannot be expected to tackle these issues alone.”

He went on to state: “As the survey shows, poverty and homelessness take an enormous physical and emotional toll on children. They often cannot concentrate when they are in school because they are tired, hungry and anxious.

“Children living in poverty are more likely to suffer from low confidence and behavioural issues.

“Homelessness leads to ill health and absenteeism when the distance and cost of travelling to school from temporary accommodation is prohibitive.

“Teachers and support staff are mending clothes and washing uniforms, providing food and equipment.

“It is hardly credible that this is happening in one of the world’s largest economies.”

To read the full article on the Guardian website please click here