More children go to school hungry, warn teachers

Recession has caused a worrying rise in malnutrition among pupils, survey reveals

The growing problem of child malnutrition was highlighted today following a report showing half the country's teachers have witnessed pupils suffering malnutrition or hunger pangs.

The survey, in which some teachers admitted buying food for pupils, is the latest to highlight the impact increasing poverty is having on today's children. Earlier this month, the charity Kids Company, which looks after 13,000 children in London, warned an increasing number of children were arriving at its drop-in centres not in search of shelter or safety – but just a good square meal.

Further evidence came yesterday from the Trussell Trust, which runs over 200 food banks in the UK. A spokesman said demand had nearly doubled in the past 12 months, with the charity opening two new food banks every week in the last year.

The new figures are revealed in a study of 515 teachers from across England by the Prince's Trust. One in four of those claiming pupils' hunger is a problem, said it was becoming an increasingly common sight as a result of the recession. It also found seven out of 10 secondary school teachers were "increasingly worried" their pupils will end up on benefits after quitting full-time education.

The survey, published in today's Times Educational Supplement, paints a picture of the devastating effect the recession is having on pupils and their teachers. The charity said teachers were also witnessing increasing numbers of pupils coming into school "hungry", "dirty" and "struggling to concentrate" since the recession.

More than one in four teachers said they regularly saw children walking miles to school as they cannot afford transport. A further two-thirds claim they often saw pupils with holes in their shoes. One teacher told how she saw a pupil walking to school in the snow wearing just her socks because her shoes no longer fitted her.

Some said they had seen a "marked" increase in depression and emotional problems as joblessness took its toll on family life. "The recession is already damaging the hopes of more than a million young people who are struggling to find a job," said Ginny Lunn, its director of policy and strategy. "Now young people in schools are next in line.

"We cannot allow them to become the next victims of the recession."

In all, 48 per cent of those in the survey – conducted by YouGov plc – said they regularly witnessed pupils coming into school suffering from malnutrition or showing signs they had not eaten enough. One teacher reported seeing "scavenger pupils finishing off scraps" while another said some came into school "to have food and keep warm".

"On a daily basis, I witness one child who never changes his clothes at all," said one respondent. "All term he has been wearing the same two hoodies and jeans."

According to the research, the most effective method of helping deprived youngsters cope with the impact of poverty is to provide them with mentors. However, two-fifths said they did not have enough support to do this.

The trust's research follows a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers last month in which teachers claimed children were going hungry because their free school dinners were too "tiny". Providers, they argued, were reducing the size of dinners to cut costs and keep their contracts as public service cuts began to bite.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company, said: "We are seeing responsible parents who are not managing to have food in the house." The School Food Trust, which advises the Government about children's nutrition, said for "far too many children" a free school meal was their only proper meal of the day.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

AER Teachers: YEAR 3 TEACHER - PREPARATORY SCHOOL

£27000 - £40000 per annum: AER Teachers: YEAR 3 TEACHER - PREPARATORY SCHOOLA ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent