Thursday, 14 January 2016

Disturbing story from the UK

From the Mirror 

Children are turning up for school too hungry to learn, says a survey which reveals teachers are taking in food for desperate pupils.

Nearly one in three has resorted to feeding children in class – and some staff even give kids cash to buy food.

A third of teachers said children are falling asleep in class due to hunger, with many blaming financial hardship for youngsters missing out on breakfast.

Some 82% said a hungry child is unable to concentrate, 50% claimed they were more disruptive, and 34% said hunger causes a child to cry in distress.

Read more: Poorer children less likely to grow into "extroverts" than well-off kids says new study

The YouGov poll of 765 teachers in England and Wales, for Kellogg’s, says 78% see children coming into school hungry at least once a week, while 36% say it happens every day. And 20% say the problem is worse than last year.

NASUWT teachers’ union chief Chris Keates, said: “Children’s lives are being blighted by poverty and the increasing financial pressures on their parents.

“Poverty takes a physical and emotional toll on children. Children living in poverty often suffer more ill-health and absenteeism from school and cannot concentrate when they are hungry.

“Teachers and other public service workers are struggling to pick up the pieces caused by this Government’s economic and social policies.

“The Government has a responsibility to tackle, not generate, poverty and homelessness.”

The 293,000-member NASUWT also fears the increasing cost of school meals is causing further grief for parents.

Read more: Food banks fear surge in demand when Tories’ next attack on welfare kicks in

A recent survey by the union found 51% of parents are now paying between £2 and £4, compared to 2013, when the average cost per pupil for meals was between £1 and £3.

The poll also exposed wide regional variations. In Yorkshire, 44% of teachers said they’d brought in food for hungry children, the most generous. The percentage was lowest in the North West at 23%.

Around three quarters blamed financial hardship and 38% said parents were too busy to give their kids breakfast.

Alison Graham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “The Prime Minister said he wants parents to aim high for their children.

“But parents don’t have money to cover the basics - never mind extras. And planned cuts to universal credit would make things worse for low-paid working families.

“There is good progress towards breakfast clubs but we’ve also seen the freezing of benefits year after year while housing and childcare costs have spiralled, so parents are up against it.”

She added: “The Chancellor rightly abandoned tax credit cuts because they would have clobbered hard-up families.

“He should likewise turn back from universal credit cuts which would hit the same low-income families, putting more children at risk of hunger.”

Teachers talk about the shocking problem of hungry children

  • “Five per cent of our school population are having to use food banks to be able to eat.”
  • “Increasing numbers of children in my primary school confide that they are hungry and are desperate for lunch time. They ask me if it is nearly lunch-time.”
  • “Some of my children come to school hungry and unkempt with too much on their minds to allow them to concentrate on their studies.”
  • “I am increasingly seeing an inability to concentrate, tiredness and aggressiveness to other children.”

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