Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Hungry Schoolkids

An increasing number of pupils in Scotland are going to school hungry and in some cases are stealing food from classmates, according to teachers.

Teaching union the EIS carried out a survey as part of its work on tackling the impact of poverty in schools.

About half (51%) of those questioned reported a rise in pupils coming to school without any food. The survey also found an increase in those taking free school meals and attending breakfast clubs. One in five (19%) identified an increase in the number of incidents of children asking for food and even stealing food from other pupils.

The union reported a 22% increase in the number of post-P3 children taking free school meals and a 27% rise in attendance at breakfast clubs. It also identified a 7% increase in the number of parents or guardians requesting referrals to local food banks.

On the issue of pupils' health and well-being, 71% of respondents reported an increase in the number of children displaying signs of mental-health problems including anxiety, stress and low mood. About half (52%) noted an increase in headaches, lethargy and weight issues among pupils.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "The findings offer a stark warning of the deep and damaging impact of poverty and the politics of austerity on children and young people across the country." Mr Flanagan added: "The fact that teachers are reporting such very high increases in both mental and physical health issues in pupils is a huge concern and highlights the true cost of political choices that have driven more families into poverty and widened the gap between the rich and the poor."

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