"Pupil poverty rising because of cuts" claims headteacher survey
Pupil poverty is rising amid “intense pressure on school budgets”, according to a survey of headteachers published on Friday.
The survey was carried out by the Association of School and College Leaders ahead of its annual conference in Birmingham this weekend.
Ninety-six per cent of headteachers surveyed said that poverty levels had increased in recent years, with more and more pupils receiving clothes and food parcels from schools.
“They have become an unofficial fourth emergency service for poor and vulnerable children,” said Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the ASCL.
“Politicians must end their fixation with Brexit and work together to build a new sense of social mission in our country.”
Headteachers gave examples of the levels of poverty, such as students aged only 11 or 12 feeling that they had to help contribute to the family income, and others having only two meals a day: their free breakfast and lunch at school.
One headteacher commented that “every evening I lose sleep thinking about the challenges my pupils face and the fact I can only do so much.”
Education Secretary Damien Hinds will today address the headteachers, announcing a new expert advisory group to help teachers with “the pressures of the job”.
The group will be headed by Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind, and will include headteachers, unions and professional bodies.
“Like any really important job, teaching comes with its own challenges,” the education secretary will tell the conference.
“As a society there is a much greater level of understanding about mental health and wellbeing, and it is something many of you raise with me when I visit your schools. Whilst those conversations are focused on supporting your students, I’m clear that your wellbeing is also something we need to prioritise.”