Poor Children Coming to School Tired and Hungry

This is a universal problem that requires a lot more attention.  Teachers are not given enough credit for their role in supporting kids that come to school with inadequate food or no lunch at all.  It is not widely known that teachers often spend out of their own pocket to ensure that their poorer students have what to eat.  But the problem still exists, and it must be addressed.

A concerted campaign from schools by working with charity groups to ensure that meals are provided for students of poor families should ensure that heartbreaking articles like this one will be a thing of the past:

Teachers are reporting a rise in pupils entering the classroom feeling tired, hungry and dressed in worn-out clothes.

A study by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found almost eight-in-10 staff had pupils living below the poverty line and a quarter believed numbers had increased since the start of the recession.

One teacher from Nottingham told of a sixth-former who had not eaten for three days as her “mother had no money at all until pay day”.

A teaching assistant from a West Midlands comprehensive told researchers that some pupils had “infected toes due to feet squashed into shoes way too small”, while another member from Halifax reported a boy who was ridiculed in the PE changing room because his family could not afford to buy him any underpants.

Some teachers told how pupils were consistently late for lessons as parents could not cover the bus fare to school. Other children from middle to lower income families have been forced to cut out school tips because money is so tight, it was claimed.

The disclosure follows the publication of figures showing a rise in the number of pupils eligible for free school meals as families struggle to stay above the breadline in the recession.

Almost 1.2 million five- to 16-year-olds claimed free lunches last year – a rise of more than 83,000 in just 12 months.

Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, claimed that problems would escalate further because of Government funding cuts – putting the Coalition’s social mobility drive in jeopardy.

“It is appalling that in 2011 so many children in the UK are severely disadvantaged by their circumstances and fail to achieve their potential,” she said.

“What message does this government think it is sending young people when it is cutting funding for Sure Start centres, cutting the Education Maintenance Allowance, raising tuition fees and making it harder for local authorities to provide health and social services.

“The Government should forget empty rhetoric about social mobility and concentrate on tackling the causes of deprivation and barriers to attainment that lock so many young people into a cycle of poverty.”

It is time that we made the most crucial issues in education our first priority and main focus.  As important as debate over class size, ICT, male teacher numbers are for improved educational outcomes, such discussion often takes over.  We need to get back to basics.  The basic requirement for a school is to look after the welfare of its students.  That makes health and bullying among the most important priorities in my book.Here’s an opportunity for schools and charity groups to work together to tackle a problem that shouldn’t even exist in the forst place.

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2 Responses to “Poor Children Coming to School Tired and Hungry”

  1. Margaret Reyes Dempsey Says:

    This makes me sad. Hunger and health, especially with regard to children, are two issues that tug at my heart.

  2. Air Conditioning Says:

    Air Conditioning…

    […]Poor Children Coming to School Tired and Hungry « Topical Teaching[…]…

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