Child Poverty: Third of North West teachers personally provide financial support to pupils or their families

More than a third of teachers across the North West have had to personally provide financial or in kind support to pupils or their families.

An ITV Granada Reports survey has found schools are having to provide additional food, clothing and utility top up cards for family members as well as the pupils attending their school.

The survey of more than 270 teachers found:

The survey also found support for families extends beyond the pupils in the classroom.

  • 21% are providing utility bill top up cards

  • 52% are providing food for family members other than the pupils attending their school

  • 18% are providing clothes for those family members.

  • Others also told us they have provided furniture, hygiene products and even Christmas decorations and presents so no child woke up disappointed on Christmas day.

Breakfast clubs run by schools are often the lifeline of communities where parents cannot afford to feed their children.

Cheetham Hill is suburb minutes North of Manchester's Commercial Centre but the city's wealth does not stretch here.

It is a suburb where three out of five children live in poverty.

Unity Community Primary provides a lifeline for parents who cannot feed their children.

Family support workers like Rachael provide emotional and practical help to families facing difficulty.

While teachers teach she is on the front line in a war she feels we are losing.

She provides books, food and other items for families desperate in need.

Family support workers like Rachael provide emotional and practical help to families facing difficulty.

One in eight families in England cut back on food because of uniform costs so staff at the school offer free clothing and book bags at the start of the year. It is one less expense to worry about for parents in need. Jude Lee, the headteacher of the school, says: "You can start to see when families have only ever had that one jumper and wear it perhaps longer than when it still fits the child.

But it is not just Cheetham Hill where the issue is prevalent, poverty is something teaching union NASUWT says is seen time and time again across the region.

Damien McNulty, from the union, says: "It's emotionally very distressing.

"I've got a number of colleagues that I work with that talk about returning from school visits whenever they meet children for the first time and the levels of poverty are those that we would potentially expect to see in third world countries or developing countries."

Headteachers like Sarah Tomlinson have had offer additional support to familIes during the pandemic.

Rural Cheshire has also seen a rise in child poverty. Government figures show one in three children live in destitution in some parts of the county - a part of the region synonymous with wealth.

Sarah Tomlinson is a headteacher in Windsford she says during the pandemic headteachers across the area have had offer additional support to familIes.

She adds: "People think of Cheshire and maybe they think there isn't an issue but there is an issue, there's an issue in every village and every town and this is the same across the nation.

But it is the unforeseen consequences of child poverty that worry those in education the most.

Rachael Philip adds: "Some children, it's completely their responsibility to wake up and get into school in the mornings, parents try their best but they are very limited with what they have, whether that's knowledge or resources, very very limited.

"A lot of our children have to learn a level of independence that they shouldn't be exposed to at their early ages.

In response to the issues raised, a Government spokesperson said: "We are committed to making sure every child gets the best start in life, and this is central to our steadfast determination to level up opportunity across the country. "That's why we've targeted our support to families most in need, boosting welfare support by billions, and we will continue to provide support for pupils who would normally receive Free School Meals until they have returned to the classroom."