Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a report from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), revealing that the majority of schools are providing clothing and food to some pupils in response to cost-of-living pressures.
"This report lays bare the effect of poverty and the cost-of-living crisis on young people and the impact this is having on their education. In the vast majority of schools, it is becoming increasingly necessary to provide welfare support for pupils. School staff provide this support out of a duty of care and because they need to ensure pupils are fit to learn, but this is not a long-term solution. It is completely unacceptable that so many young people are going without their basic needs being met. The government has to do more to help families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and provide the sustained investment necessary to tackle child poverty.
“We agree with the recommendations made in this report and in particular the urgent need to extend the free school meals scheme. Even before the cost-of-living crisis, there were children living in poverty who were not eligible for free school meals. An extension of the scheme to all families in receipt of universal credit is long overdue. Introducing a system of auto-enrolment would also be hugely beneficial as 11% of pupils who are eligible are not currently taking advantage of the scheme.”