In a new poll of its members, school leaders’ union NAHT has found that 84 per cent of head teachers say that they have provided support for children from deprived backgrounds.
The survey, released today (Fri 1st May) to coincide with the first day of the NAHT Annual Conference in Liverpool, revealed that schools are frequently providing food, clothes and washing facilities to children from poor families.
Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary said: “Regardless of the promise to protect education spending in the next parliament, cuts to other public services will come home to roost at the school gates. Schools are already finding that they are providing unfunded support. Our research estimates that this costs all state schools around £43.5m per year.”
“This is money that schools are having to find to help families who have been left high and dry by cuts to public services. This pressure is only going to increase. We know that whichever political party holds power after next week, deeper cuts are coming.”
Over 2,000 school leaders responded to the survey with 84 per cent saying that they are providing more support than they did five years ago. The same percentage believed that a change in the financial circumstances of pupils’ families was one of the causes of this increase, suggesting that more families are struggling to make ends meet.
When asked if their school funded services that were previously delivered by health or social care, the majority (66.58 per cent) answered yes. Of these, the large majority (71.94 per cent) were providing mental health support.
Mr Hobby continued: “This is a hidden, national scandal that’s going to hit families very hard, very soon. Schools will do all they can to help and in many cases they’re already providing more support than they can afford. Schools are judged on results and on the quality of the teaching and learning they offer but this is a much wider problem. Asking schools to foot the bill for cuts elsewhere, and abandoning the poorest families is the wrong way to go about paying down the deficit.”
NAHT has a series of proposals which it believes could combat the problems highlighted by the survey, including asking the government to urgently explore and implement a system of data sharing between departments.
Mr Hobby said: “We’d like to see government departments working together to give schools the information they need so that low income families get the support they are entitled to. At the moment the burden of proof falls on the families themselves and children are missing out. This just isn’t right.”
The full results of the survey are attached.
Page Published: 01/05/2015