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Hungry pupils left to 'scavenge' for food at school

Growing numbers of children are turning up at school malnourished, dirty and struggling to concentrate because of soaring poverty levels in the recession, a study suggests.

Almost six-in-10 teachers reported encountering pupils who are left hungry through lack of food at least once a week, it was revealed.

In some cases, "scavenger" children have been caught finishing scraps of food or using school as a place to warm up and eat a decent meal, according to the poll research also shows that teachers increasingly fear high youth unemployment will leave their pupils facing a future on the dole.

The findings – in a study by the Prince's Trust and the Times Educational Supplement – come just a day after it was announced that Britain had fallen back into recession.

Ginny Lunn, the trust’s director of policy and strategy, raised concerns that schoolchildren would become the next victims of the financial crisis.

One teacher told researchers they had seen "scavenger pupils finishing off scraps, as they haven't eaten enough", while another said some pupils came into school "to have food and get warm".

A third 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 study – based on interviews with 515 secondary school teachers – found almost two-thirds came across students who did not have clean clothes on a weekly basis, with 40 per cent saying they witnessed this every day.
Some 39 per cent of teachers found hungry pupils every day, rising to 57 per cent who witnessed it on a weekly basis.

In a further disclosure, it emerged that 16 per cent of teachers had seen a pupil suffering from malnutrition or showing signs of not eating enough every day, with a further 13 per cent encountering this weekly.
Earlier this month the Association of Teachers and Lecturers warned that many children are going hungry in school.

Research by the union also found that many teachers have seen a rise in the number of children on free meals at their school. It suggested this is down to the effects of the recession, with more parents facing redundancy.
Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: "Too few politicians really understand what it is about poverty that affects children's learning.

"Forget about executive stress, try spending the week knowing that the food will run out before any more money comes in.

"Under that kind of pressure, no wonder relationships get strained, youngsters are deprived of sleep, often suffer emotional damage and cannot concentrate in school or remember what they have learnt."

The Telegraph

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