Poverty 'affecting student chances'
Rising numbers of children may be turning up for school tired, hungry and dressed in worn-out clothes because they are living in poverty, a survey of teachers suggests.
Almost four-fifths of teachers (79%) say they have pupils who are living below the poverty line, according to the poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).
One in four believe poverty amongst their pupils has increased since the start of the recession.
One teacher from Halifax, West Yorkshire, told researchers that a boy they worked with had been laughed at by classmates when changing for PE because he had no underpants. In another case, a teacher had a sixth-form student who had not eaten for three days because their mother had no money until pay day.
The poll, which questioned more than 600 teachers, found that 86% believe that poverty is having a negative effect on the wellbeing of students.
Four in five teachers (80%) said children living in poverty arrive at school tired, nearly three in four (73%) said they turn up hungry and just over two-thirds (67%) said poor youngsters were arriving without the proper uniform or in worn-out clothes.
Seven in ten said these youngsters lacked confidence while teachers also reported children living in poverty suffered from higher stress levels, lacked friends, had poor physical or mental health and became 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."
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We're overhauling the welfare and schools systems precisely to tackle entrenched worklessness, family breakdown, low educational achievement and financial insecurity.
"We're targeting investment directly at the poorest families. The most disadvantaged two-year-olds will get 15 hours' free childcare. We're focusing Sure Start at the poorest families, with 4,200 extra health visitors. We're opening academies in areas failed educationally for generations and bringing in the Pupil Premium to target an extra £2.5 billion a year directly at students that need the most support."