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Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 

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NAHT responds to record child poverty figures

Responding to new figures which show child poverty has reached a record high, with 4.3m children in poverty in the year to April 2023, Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is frankly shameful that in one of the world’s richest countries, child poverty is increasing by almost every measure, with more than two-thirds of children affected in working families.

“Schools are increasingly having to step in and support pupils and parents, with local authority budgets stretched to breaking point. School leaders and their staff are running foodbanks and warm hubs, providing crisis vouchers for supermarkets, offering use of showers and washing machines, and even giving parents cash for energy meters.

“However, this isn’t easy or sustainable, with many schools struggling to make budgets add up in support of their core teaching duties.

“As well as damaging children’s health and wellbeing, poverty also harms their progress at school, with those who arrive hungry, cold or tired unlikely to be ready to learn, while in some cases pupils’ attendance can be affected.

“While the cost of living crisis has made things harder, so too have political choices over the last decade around support for families who are struggling. The government must do much more to acknowledge and tackle child poverty, including introducing auto-enrolment for free school meals and extending their availability, and entitling all families to receive 30 hours of free childcare, properly funded by ministers.”

First published 21 March 2024