Rising child poverty impacting on educational progress

Political parties must commit to ending the social and economic policies which are damaging children’s education, the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has told the TUC Congress in Liverpool.

Rising child poverty and homelessness is impacting on children and young people’s progress and achievements. Education policies have fostered an inequality where access to education is increasingly based on parents’ ability to pay, said the NASUWT.

The NASUWT’s own survey on financial hardship has demonstrated the impact of austerity policies on children.

Results included:

Over three quarters (80%) of teachers said pupils are lacking energy and concentration as a result of eating poorly;
The majority (82%) said pupils were arriving to school in clothes inappropriate for the weather conditions;
Over a quarter (27%) said they had brought in food for hungry pupils themselves and well over half (63%) said they had lent or given pupils school equipment;
Over half (53%) said they had witnessed pupils missing out on important educational activities due to lack of money to pay for them.
Over a quarter said they knew of pupils who had lost their homes and said they were teaching pupils living in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“This is a shameful catalogue of deprivation and misery and a scandalous, heartbreaking litany of broken promises.

“These are not issues which are incidental to teachers. These are issues which impact directly on children and young people’s educational progress.

“Teachers and support staff are being left to pick up the pieces of this Coalition’s failed education, social and economic policies.

Mick Lyons, ex-President, moving the motion, said:
“Poverty is not a lifestyle choice.

“Poverty is not something people impose on themselves. It is a direct result of callous social and economic policies.

“Homelessness, poverty and deprivation impact directly on children and young people’s educational progress. This is now the shocking landscape for ordinary working people and their families after four years of this government.”