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Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

Brilliant Intiative for Supporting Hungry Students

October 29, 2012

 

What a fabulous idea. I hope this initiative takes off:

Hungry children from families too poor to eat are being taught cookery at school on Fridays so they have food to take home for the weekend.

Shocking figures have also revealed the number of Britons relying on emergency food handouts has soared to record levels – with charities warning the grim situation is going to get worse.

One in seven children regularly go without a hot meal, according to the Unite union, and in Bradford, West Yorkshire, a handful of schools are getting pupils to cook a high-carbohydrate, nutritious meal before heading home for the weekends.

The Trussell Trust, which runs a nationwide network of 270 foodbanks, said nearly 110,000 people turned to it for help between April and September – compared to 128,697 over the last financial year.

The organisation is expecting to feed more than 200,000 hungry mouths by the end of this financial year, with food prices likely to rise further and fuel bills increase by nearly 10%.

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What’s More Important for Education – Smart Boards or Breakfast?

July 5, 2012

Just like in life, there are luxuries and necessities. Educators want to make us believe that digital gadgets like smart boards are a vital tool in the modern-day classroom. That is simply not true. Whilst I love my smart board and I was disappointed when it was out-of-order earlier this year, I can teach perfectly well without it.

One of the biggest necessities in education is the need for our students to arrive at school well fed and fully nourished. If that is not the case, it is our duty to do all that we can to provide healthy food for them.

But schools are underfunded? Where will the money come from?

I believe that even if we have to go without smart boards and other useful but non-essential equipment, it is worth it in order to ensure that our students are not going hungry:

Two children in every school class are going hungry because their parents fail to provide proper meals, according to new research.

An estimated one million children in the UK now live in homes without enough to eat, according to the study by the parenting website Netmums and the child welfare charity Kids Company.

The charity has reported a rise of 233 per cent in the last 12 months in children using its services for their only meal of the day. Those children have an average age of just 10.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, said: “We are seeing a lot more children struggling to get hold of food. We have kids who were so starving they stole frozen meat from a flat they visited and they ate it raw. We’re seeing effectively responsible parents who are just not managing to have food in the house.

This is another consequence of those blasted standardized tests. Schools wouldn’t dare invest in anything that didn’t have an immediate impact on student learning – including breakfast.

This is not good enough. We represent more than just a place of learning. We must also focus our attention on student welfare and ensure that every child that enters a classroom will be looked after properly, no matter what.

Woman Re-Mortagages Her House To Feed School Kids

June 13, 2011

How about this for a story of selflessness and generosity.

A businesswoman in east London re-mortagaged her home to establish a breakfast club after learning that one-fourth of Britain’s primary pupils were too hungry to learn.

Today, Carmel McConnell’s breakfast club – Magic Breakfast – feeds 6,000 chidren every day, Daily Express reported.

At 200 of the most deprived schools, Magic Breakfast gives children a healthy start of juice, bagels and cereal or toast for just 23 pence, with many often having not eaten since the previous school lunch.

Carmel said: ‘My work was advising big business on building trusted brands. I ended up going into schools to research a book on corporate activism and found that many of the teachers were having a whip-round and bringing food into school each morning so they could give their pupils something to eat.

‘Without food, the youngsters are unable to concentrate, behave properly or to learn. I immediately bought a whole load of loaves and dropped them off at our local schools in Hackney (in east London) where the teachers had expressed a real need.

‘I then re-mortgaged the house when I realised just how widespread this problem was and how little it would take to put it right.’

Valerie Figaro, head of Randall Cremer Primary School, east London, said Magic Breakfast transformed the lives of many of her pupils.

‘When children get up they won’t have eaten for 10 to 12 hours and we are asking them to expend energy by using their brains without any fuel,’ said Figaro.

Carmel, who draws support from large corporations, hopes to advise schools on raising funds themselves for breakfast clubs.

I love stories about the unsung heroes of education.  Ms. McConnell can be contacted at carmelmcconnell@btinternet.com

Poor Children Coming to School Tired and Hungry

April 15, 2011

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.

Sometimes Reports Into Education = Good Toilet Paper

December 5, 2010

I am sick of these “doom and gloom” reports into education that pretend to represent children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but instead put them down with cold disregard.

There is no better recent example of this than a  report, entitled “The Foundation Years: Preventing Poor Children Becoming Poor Adults,” by Labour MP and new “Poverty Czar” Frank Field.  According to the report, success in life is determined by the age of 5.  Beyond the age of 5, kids don’t have much say in whether or not they will make a success out of life.

By the age of five, a huge gulf already exists between the abilities of pupils from comfortable and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Research shows “we can predict at three and at five who will be unemployed, who will struggle to get a low paid job,” Mr Field said to the BBC.

Sally Copley, UK head of policy for Save the Children, said it should not have to be a choice between improving services and boosting the income of the worst-off families.  “By the time many children walk through the school gates for the first time, it’s too late for them.”

I don’t know where to start.  Perhaps by making some points on the term “success”.

1.  Mr Field defines success by how much a person earns (as well as whether or not they have employments at all).  In my view, a persons earnings, whilst not irrelevant, is not a complete reflection of a persons success.  Are they good people?  Do they follow the laws of society?  Are they good parents?  Do they treat others fairly?  Do they have integrity?  Using this criteria, lowly paid people can be far more ‘successful” than wealthy people.

2.  This leads me to an important gripe I have with the messages society seems to proliferate.  What job we do has no bearing on a persons success.  A taxi cab driver might not sound like a successful profession on face value.  But that same taxi driver has a crucial role to play.  They help the disabled and the aged, are crucial in keeping intoxicated people off the roads and protect vulnerable people from walking the streets and taking the trains late at night.  A house painter may seem like an ordinary profession, but have you ever looked at the difference a bright, well-painted room makes to a persons mood and outlook?  All jobs have a critical role to play in making life more enjoyable regardless of the pay involved.

3.  As a teacher, I don’t spend any time looking into the socio-economic background of my students.  I also don’t tend to get obsessed over rating the parents.  I feel very confident in my ability to assist all types of students from all types of backgrounds in becoming successful citizens and productive members of society.  I feel that my students have the potential to become every bit as successful as Mr. Field himself!  Mr. Field should not confuse, as he seems to be doing, the quality of a childs academic achievements with the quality of parenting that child is receiving.  There are many parents who aren’t able to spend sufficient time helping their kids with their schoolwork because they are working long hours to simply put food on the table.  In today’s world, we have to appreciate that all too many parents sacrifice what others take for granted for nothing more than to provide for their families.

What Mr. Field has done, for all his good intentions, is needlessly narrow the definition of success, outrage taxpayers for funding students when “it’s too late for them” anyway and provide an extraordinarily negative message to people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Mr. Field, thank you.  This world can never have enough toilet paper!


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