School principals say that half-starving children put food into their pockets and come to school in dirty uniform, as the problem of child poverty is growing like a snowball.
Schoolchildren come to school on Monday in the same uniform they wore all week, and some do not come to school at all because they do not have shoes. And a director of one elementary school recently decided to open a school in heavy snow just to make sure that the children received a hot lunch that day.
A survey conducted by the NEU and the Child Poverty Action Group showed that 3 out of 5 (60%) school staff believe that child poverty has significantly worsened since 2015. And 87% believe that this affects the education of children.
Speaking at the National Education Union (NEU) conference in Brighton, school leaders told how schoolchildren come to educational institutions with gray faces, terrible teeth, dirty nails and hair. One headmistress of the school said that the rating of the school gradually lost the primary importance for her in comparison with the difficulties of the students. Jane Jenkins from Cardiff primary school said that children take only a slice of bread with margarine to school. "It is very hard," she says. "People ask us why our school cannot go up in the rating, but for us this is a secondary task today."
The headmistress of a school in Cumbria, who called herself only by the name - Lynn, said that the children at her school put food into their pockets because they do not know if they will eat in the evening. She says: "Probably, in other institutions it would be called stealing, but we call it survival." Lynn says that the members of the staff of her school laundry the school uniform for children and with their own money buy things for the kids.
Louise Regan from the Nottinghamshire primary school primary school, talked about the difference between children from her school and from other institutions where more wealthy schoolkids study. "Since we see students constantly, we do not notice how fragile they are, but when you see them next to children of the same age but from more rich families, you understand how tiny they look." Louise Regan adds that her school distributes food and clothing to schoolchildren, for example, winter coats and shoes. She explains: "We had children who could not come to school because they did not have shoes, we went, bought them shoes, took them home to the children, and brought them to school."
According to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), in 2015/16 in the UK there were 4 million children living below the poverty line, that is, in each class of 30 children there were 9 children from low-income families.
The representative of the UK Department for Education said that they launched an initiative designed to close the gap between poor children and their classmates. He added: "In addition, we continue to support the poorest children with free school meals. With Pupil Premium, we have allocated £2.5 billion for lunch and recently announced an investment of another £26 million to give children breakfasts in at least 1700 schools".