Nearly 80 per cent of teachers say they have pupils who are living below the poverty line.One teacher from Halifax told researchers that a boy had been laughed at by classmates when changing for PE because he had no underpants.In another case, a teacher said a sixth-form student had not eaten for three days because their mother had no money until pay day.
More than 600 teachers were questioned in the poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.Around 150 believed poverty among their pupils had increased since the start of the recession.They reported children suffering higher stress levels and poor physical or mental health.
Many were victims of bullying
A teaching assistant in a West Midlands secondary school told researchers: ‘Every day I become aware of a child suffering due to poverty. Today I have had to contact parents because a child has infected toes due to feet squashed into shoes way too small.’
Craig Macartney, a secondary school teacher from Suffolk, said: ‘More children from middle to lower income families are not going on school trips and these families find it difficult to meet the basic cost of living.‘A family with two or three teenage children who have one earner who loses hours, or their job, will struggle to reach the minimum income to pay for basics. This will get worse as the impact of the cuts affects families.’
Job losses and a lack of employment were given as the main reason for the rise in poverty, followed by the increased cost of food and utilities.The association’s general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: ‘It is appalling that in 2011 so many children are severely disadvantaged by their circumstances.’
Aidan Radnedge for the Metro Newspaper