Responding to a call by the Children’s Commissioner today (Thurs 21 Jan 2020) to end child poverty in the UK, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“School leaders are seeing more and more hardworking families struggling, and more children living in poverty. An NAHT poll in 2019 showed that 81% of school leaders had seen an increase in the number of children coming to school hungry in the last five years, and 75% had seen an increase in the number of parents coming to school to ask for financial support or support with essentials. Coronavirus has only exacerbated this and has shown just how vulnerable many families really are.
“This country’s record on child poverty is truly shocking. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have disproportionately suffered from cuts not just to education, but to all the wider services that should be there to help them. Successive governments have failed to invest in those who need it the most. The consequence has been the need to pour money into helping poor families during this crisis, which could have been avoided if the government had taken action sooner to fix the root causes of poverty.
“Schools are at the centre of efforts to improve equality of opportunity. But the issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve. Inequality will remain entrenched in the UK unless the government takes urgent action to break the grip of poverty. This government must have the confidence to change the record on child poverty.”
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