Number of students coming to schools hungry rising in UK: Survey

<p><em>(Anadolu photo)</em></p>

(Anadolu photo)

ANKARA – Primary schoolteachers in the UK pointed out the increasing number of students coming to schools feeling hungry and without proper clothing or school supplies compared to last year, a survey revealed on Wednesday.

A recent research carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) said that since 2021, the UK has experienced remarkable hikes in energy expenses, rapid escalations in food prices, and significant upticks in housing costs, particularly in rent and mortgage payments, leading to a substantial surge in the overall cost of living.

While inflation has declined since its winter 2022 peak, persistently high costs against incomes significantly impacted both students and their families as well as school expenditures, the NFER stressed.

An online survey, conducted in March 2024 among over 1,200 teachers and senior leaders in mainstream schools to determine if there have been alterations in students' needs compared to 2023, assessed the types of support schools are offering to students and how these efforts have evolved. It also evaluated the persistent effects of cost pressures, including rising living expenses, on schools' resources and financial statuses.

“Primary teachers report that the share of pupils coming into schools hungry, without adequate clothing or equipment for lessons, continues to increase compared to last year,” the research showed.

This year, approximately 19 percent of primary teachers and 17 percent of secondary teachers indicated using their personal funds to address students' pastoral or welfare requirements, including necessities like food or clothing, it stressed.

It mentioned that roughly a quarter of respondents estimated that they have personally spent more than £100 (over US$108) throughout the current academic year, spanning from September 2023 to March 2024.

Nearly all senior leaders in schools, with 93 percent in primary and 87 percent in secondary education, have implemented budget cuts in at least one aspect due to financial strains, it said.

Additionally, almost half (46 percent) of primary senior leaders and a third (33 percent) of secondary senior leaders have reduced planned expenditures for building improvements and new constructions in response to existing cost pressures, the research emphasized.

“Senior leaders report that their schools’ financial positions continue to deteriorate, and leaders are anticipating additional cuts to provision in the coming financial year,” it added. (Anadolu)