An increasing number of pupils are turning up at school malnourished and dirty, causing teachers to buy them food from their own wages, according to new research.
Almost half (48%) of teaching staff regularly witness pupils coming into school suffering from malnutrition or showing signs that they haven’t eaten enough. One in four of these (23%) see this more frequently since the recession, with some teachers admitting that they often buy food for struggling pupils from their own wages.
One teacher reported seeing “scavenger pupils finishing off scraps, as they haven’t eaten enough”, while another said that some pupils come into school “to have food and get warm”, as families struggle to pay the bills at home.
The survey, conducted by The Prince's Trust, revealed 83% of teachers are witnessing an increasing number of pupils coming into school with dirty clothes and struggling to concentrate since the recession. Many staff feel they do not have enough support to help these young people effectively and are calling for more mentoring support.
A teacher who took part in the survey said: “On a daily basis, I witness one child who never changes his clothes at all, so all term he has been wearing the same two hoodies and jeans.”
Another 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.”
The revelations follow shortly after one charity boss claimed the government just "don't care" about children.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company, says she has seen London children who are so malnourished they lose teeth, children so hungry who draw pictures of food and eat them, who scrimp and scrape to get their main meal of the day.
According to Batmanghelidjh, Cameron just "doesn't see it".
The Prince's Trust, which questioned 515 teachers, also warned thousands of teachers fear more of their pupils will end up on benefits after they leave school than ever before.
Nearly one in four teachers feel rising unemployment levels are rendering their efforts "in vain", while 70% are increasingly worried their pupils will be made to sign on.
Ginny Lunn, director of policy and strategy at The Prince’s Trust said: “We cannot allow young people to become the next victims of this recession.
With the right support, it is possible for pupils to achieve their ambitions, rather than becoming a 'lost generation'.