THE number of struggling families sending their children to school hungry has increased over the past year, according to a poll of almost 900 primary and secondary school teachers.
The YouGov survey of 873 teachers in England and Wales for Kellogg’s revealed:
• Four in ten teachers say they see children arriving hungry every day.
• Teachers believe economic downturn and benefits cuts have worsened the hunger problem.
• Three in ten have brought in food for hungry students.
Respondents said that students are turning up for school without having had breakfast and struggle to learn as a result. Some 38 per cent of teachers said they saw children arriving at school hungry every day. Over one fifth (21 per cent) said the number of children who arrive hungry has increased compared to this time a year ago, while just two per cent said the figure had decreased.
Of those 21 per cent, some 69 per cent said one reason for the jump was the economic downturn, while 56 per cent blamed benefits cuts. Almost half (48 per cent) said that in the fight to secure full-time work, parents were not financially able to provide breakfast.
The Kellogg’s poll revealed that a staggering 30 per cent of teachers have brought in food specifically for students they suspected hadn’t eaten anything in the morning. In Yorkshire and the Humber, the worst performing region for this statistic, 47 per cent of those surveyed said they’d brought their own food in for students to eat.
A third (31 per cent) have experienced a child falling asleep during class, only to wake and blame their fatigue on hunger or thirst. The effects of this hunger problem are plain: 75 per cent of teachers said hunger and thirst made children in their class more lethargic, and 62 per cent claimed it made them unable to learn.
Almost half (48 per cent) said hungry children were more disruptive, while 83 per cent said it left them unable to concentrate. Jill Rutter, head of research and policy at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: ‘In one of the world’s richest nations it is disgraceful that nearly 40 per cent of teachers report having children arriving hungry at school every day.
‘Missing breakfast has a huge impact on children’s ability to concentrate, learn and behave, which affects their results and long-term outcomes. Governments in all parts of the UK now recognise that breakfast is essential, but there are too many children who still miss out. We are concerned that a third of teachers have felt compelled to bring in food for children who haven’t had breakfast.’