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More Northern Ireland teachers paying for class resources: survey

Hardship: Chris Keates
Hardship: Chris Keates
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Teachers are increasingly having to pay for classroom resources out of their own pockets, a union has warned.

The NASUWT spoke out about the pressures as around 1,000 teachers from across the UK gather in Belfast for their annual conference this weekend.

Of 4,386 teachers surveyed between February and April, one in five said they buy lesson resources with their own money once a week and one in 10 (12%) said they do this several times a week.

Over half (53%) said this was because of funding pressures on schools, and nearly as many (45%) said they were spending their own money on basic necessities for pupils in the last year.

This included three-quarters having purchased food, 29% toiletries and 23% on clothing or shoes.

A number of teachers who completed the survey spoke about the pressure to spend their own money to make sure their students didn't fall behind.

"There is no money in school to buy anything other than what is deemed necessary," one said.

"We are working on a zero budget in school and struggling to keep staff."

Another said they felt compelled to help feed some pupils.

"The worst thing to experience as a teacher is watching a hungry child who is in receipt of free school meals having to stand and watch their friends eat breakfast before school or have snacks at morning break when they are hungry," they said.

Others said they buy spare coats so some children don't get cold playing outside, and one even said they found themselves in debt after paying for items for lessons.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Evidence shows that many teachers are facing financial hardship themselves as a result of year-on-year pay cuts, and yet faced with increasing child poverty some are shouldering further financial burdens to support their pupils."

She added: "Teachers care deeply about the pupils they teach and will go to great lengths to ensure their needs are being met.

"Teachers once again are being left to pick up the pieces of failed education, social and economic policies."

The survey also found that 64% of teachers said they had bought paper or stationery as well as arts and crafts materials for their classroom, and 43% had bought textbooks or reading books.

Almost half (47%) said the need for basic necessities had increased in the past year.

Yesterday it was revealed that a survey of nearly 2,000 teachers by the NASUWT-The Teachers' Union found 80% said they had suffered bullying in the last year, with the majority of incidents perpetrated by headteachers, senior leaders and line managers.

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