School considers buying washing machine to clean pupils’ clothes

Teachers are having to dip into their own pockets to help pupils address hygiene issues (PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A primary school is to consider buying a washing machine to cater for pupils whose parents cannot afford to clean their children’s clothes.

St Paul’s Church of England Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent is thinking about introducing the measure after more students started attending school with “washing and hygiene issues”.

Head teacher Nicola Finney said the school was contemplating having a washing machine on the premises after a study suggested 40% of parents cannot afford basic hygiene products.

The survey was conducted by the charity In Kind Direct who currently provide Ms Finney’s school with toothpaste, sanitary products and toilet roll among other essential items.

The study said two thirds of 100 primary school teachers have seen children in unclean clothes and of the 2,000 parents surveyed nearly a fifth said their child wore the same underwear for at least two days in a row.

Ms Finney said: “We now make allowances in our very tight school budget to make sure we can buy personal hygiene and washing items, such as toiletries, washing powder and toothpaste as well as spare uniforms, shoes and deodorant, because we know increasing numbers of families simply can’t afford to buy them.

“Over the years I have spent hundreds of pounds of my own money helping pupils by buying these items because I couldn’t bear to see them going without, and I know other colleagues have too.

“On one occasion I bought a washing machine for a family who had just had a newborn baby and had nowhere to wash their clothes. Now as a head teacher, I don’t want to see my staff having to put their hands in their own pockets, even though I know they still do.”

Ms Finney added: “We have a dedicated team in our school to address this and to look at pupils’ needs.”

The school has started stockpiling spare, washed uniforms so pupils can “get changed and sent home clean.”

Ms Finney continued: “Children as young as five are seeing themselves as being different. Other children might not want to sit with them and their comments can be very hurtful.

“We have seen significantly more children coming into school with washing and hygiene issues over the last few years. It used to be just a couple of children across the school, but now there are two or three in every classroom.

“We want all of our pupils to get the best outcomes, not just those that can afford the basic essentials to keep themselves and their clothes clean and presentable.”