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Recession 'blighting pupils' lives'

Teachers increasingly fear that high youth unemployment will leave their pupils facing a future on the dole, a survey suggests.

It also warns that the recession means more children arrive at school hungry, dirty and struggling to concentrate.

In some cases, "scavenger" pupils have been caught finishing scraps of food or using school as a place to warm up and eat a decent meal, according to a poll by the Prince's Trust and the Times Educational Supplement.

Prince's Trust director of policy and strategy, Ginny Lunn, raised concerns that schoolchildren will become the next victims of the financial crisis. The findings, based on interviews with 515 secondary school teachers, comes days after it was announced that the UK has fallen back into recession.

Seven in 10 of the teachers increasingly worry that their pupils will end up on benefits due to the high unemployment rate. And more than half (54%) expect more of their students will end up on benefits than ever before.

According to the latest official figures, 1.03 million 16 to 24-year-olds were considered unemployed in the three months to February.

The research also raises questions about the number of pupils turning up in class without clean clothes or suffering from malnutrition.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of the teachers surveyed come across students who do not have clean clothes at least once a week, with 40% of these saying they witness this every day.

More than half (57%) encounter youngsters in their school who are hungry at least once a week. Of these, 39% come across this every day. And 16% of teachers have seen a pupil suffering from malnutrition or showing signs of not eating enough every day, with a further 13% encountering this once a week.

One teacher told researchers they had seen "scavenger pupils finishing off scraps, as they haven't eaten enough", while another said some pupils came into school "to have food and get warm". A third said: "One student came into school wearing a soaking wet uniform. He washed it in the morning as his mother had failed to do so due to being inebriated. He didn't know how to use the drier so came in wet."


From Belfast Telegraph