Pupil poverty on rise at secondary schools across England and Wales, according to poll of headteachers

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10th April 2019 15:31 - Education

Rise in pupil poverty at secondary schools across England and Wales: According to a poll of headteachers in England and Wales for the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), pupil poverty is on the rise with 96% saying they had seen an increase over the past few years.

The survey of 407 headteachers (representing 11% of state-funded secondary schools in England and Wales) found that pupils were experiencing increased levels of poverty in a number of areas.

Nine in ten (91%) said they have provided students with items of clothing to help support them, while three quarters said that they have organised breakfast clubs in order to help pupils facing growing levels of poverty.

The survey also found that seven in ten teachers (71%) had helped pupils by supplying them with sanitary products; just under half said they have washed clothes at home for students, while 43% said they have arranged food parcels or food banks for students and their families.

In addition to how they have helped pupils experiencing poverty, headteachers also answered questions around externaland in-school support available to students and their families, including mental health services.

The survey found that 98% have had issues accessing specialist mental health services for pupils which they believe is due to cuts and an increased need for such services. It also found over nine in ten (92%) headteachers said they have witnessed cuts in services provided by local authorities for pupils and their families in recent years.

Almost all teachers polled (405/407) said they had seen a growing demand for mental health services provided by the school. Some of the reasons attributed for such demand include cuts to local services and poverty as well as exam pressure and social media.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “A decade of austerity has wreaked havoc with the social fabric of the nation and schools have been left to pick up the pieces while coping with real-term funding cuts.

“They have become an unofficial fourth emergency service for poor and vulnerable children, providing food and clothing and filling in the gaps left by cut backs to local services."

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