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Whiteman: Parentkind survey reveals the shocking impact of a decade of austerity

Today, (Mon 16 Sept) national charity Parentkind publishes its annual report which shows that two thirds of disadvantaged families are worried about the cost of sending their child to school.


Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “The evidence is mounting up and it shows a record on child poverty that the government should be ashamed of.


“Austerity is not just a temporary phase for some families to endure, it is a day to day reality. Parents and carers are not the only ones who worry about austerity. Tragically, children are well aware of their family’s money troubles. Our members tell us that children’s worries leave them unable to learn and enjoy school. They are often embarrassed and ashamed. It’s a message that sticks in the throat of everyone who has young people’s best interests at heart.”


Along with the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), NAHT wrote to every MP in England in May this year, detailing some of the things that parents had said at school. Here are some examples:


“We have parents coming in in tears for foodbank vouchers or for a lift to the one stop shop for emergency gas / electric tokens. We do have parents asking us to lend them money.”


“The attendance of the children who are living in poverty is low.”


“I've seen parents weep because they can't afford uniform or pay the dinner bill.”


“Some families are so stressed about money that they totally miss their children's emotional needs.”


Polling conducted alongside the research showed that:


- 75% of school leaders reported seeing an increase or significant increase in the number of parents coming to school to ask for financial support or support with essentials in the last five years

- 81% reported seeing an increase or significant increase in the number of children coming to school hungry in the last five years

- 86% reported that they provide more or significantly more support than five years ago


Mr Whiteman continued: “Rightly, schools are at the centre of the efforts to improve equality of opportunity. But it would be wrong to expect schools to solve the problem on their own. The issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve. Cuts to local authority budgets have greatly reduced the sources of support for families on low incomes. Similarly, schools are less able to access local authority support for pupils and families that need it. As the Social Mobility Commission has commented, inequality will remain entrenched in the UK "from birth to work" unless the government takes urgent action.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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