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Staff in cash-strapped schools pay for food, toilet roll and tampons for pupils amid cuts, survey finds

Posted on: 2018-06-23 08:30:00

More than half of school staff feel they have to dip into their own pockets for basic essentials – including food, tampons and clothes for vulnerable children – as school funding cuts bite. 

Teaching assistants and support staff in cash-strapped schools are buying toilet roll and first aid necessities, as well as pens, pencils and books, for their pupils, a survey from GMB union claims.

The poll, of more than 4,600 school staff, reveals that 78 per cent say their school has been forced to make significant financial cutbacks – which has reduced the number of resources on offer. 

The poll, of more than 4,600 school staff, reveals that 78 per cent say their school has been forced to make significant financial cutbacks – which has reduced the number of resources on offer.

School staff have reported bringing in paper aeroplanes and balls for break time as children have nothing to play with in the playground, while others provide toiletries and sanitary products.

One member of staff said they provided food for children who did not have enough money for lunch – or for pupils who drop their lunch and do not get another one. “The budget is extremely tight and the kitchen will only prepare a certain amount of food,” they said.

toiletries and sanitary products.

One member of staff said they provided food for children who did not have enough money for lunch – or for pupils who drop their lunch and do not get another one. “The budget is extremely tight and the kitchen will only prepare a certain amount of food,” they said.

“We have some children under a child protection plan that don’t have any food at home. We will cook food to be frozen to see them through the holidays,” another member of school staff said.

Barbara Plant, GMB president and a former teaching assistant, said: “These horrifying stories show the desperate situation facing so many of our schools. A generation of children’s education is being compromised as staff numbers are cut and classes get larger. Meanwhile staff are left out of pocket bringing basic necessities like toilet paper from home.”

“Their goodwill is being taken advantage of because they care so much about the children at their schools.”

Research from UK charity In Kind Direct this week revealed that one in three teachers are providing pupils with toothpaste and soap amid soaring child poverty rates.

And earlier this month, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner warned that up to 2.6 million children whose parents are on benefits could be missing out on free school meals by 2022.

Ms Plant added: “The government needs to stop denying that school budgets are being cut – the reality is in front of us. If staff cuts continue then many schools will struggle to fulfil their statutory obligations. It’s absolutely vital that schools get the extra funding they need as soon as possible.”

The Department for Education was approached for comment.

Source: Independent

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