More than three quarters of school staff are having to deal with struggling students’ dinner money debt and sourcing food bank vouchers amid increasing levels of child poverty, according to a new survey.
The majority (89%) of people who took part in the research, co-ordinated by the Education Anti-Poverty Coalition, said they believed child poverty in their school has increased in the past two academic years.
It comes as one headteacher said child poverty is the worst she has seen it during her more than two decades in the role.
I’ve been a head(teacher) for 25 years, I’ve never seen it as bad as it is at the moment and the numbers are just increasing week-on-week
She told the PA news agency: “It’s widespread. I’ve been a head for 25 years, I’ve never seen it as bad as it is at the moment and the numbers are just increasing week-on-week currently.”
She said at her school, which runs a food bank and does second-hand uniform sales, it is “hitting so many more families that in the past wouldn’t have been necessarily affected by it”.
She added: “In our school it’s not just those that are on free school meals for example, but because that threshold is so low, it’s the next group of families that are just above it, that are also affected.”
The coalition said its survey of 1,023 people working in or with schools in England was a “first-of-its-kind” study into the experiences of head teachers, senior leaders, teachers, governors, teaching support staff, administrators, catering teams and facilities managers.