Posted: 01 October 2013

A new example of the crisis the poorest children face

As Education Secretary Michael Gove addressed the Conservative party conference today, the Daily Mirror released a poll showing that huge numbers of teachers are seeing more poverty and hunger in their classrooms. 

This is another example of the crisis this country’s poorest children face. 

In December, our nationwide survey of teachers revealed that an alarming number are seeing hunger in schools. Nearly half said they saw children coming to school hungry and nearly three-quarters (72%) said children were coming to school with no lunch and no means to pay for one. 

The government’s recent announcement that all five to seven year-olds will get free school meals is a huge step forward. But more needs to be done to make sure that all children in poverty – a further 500,000 children, including those whose parents work – can get them.  

Protecting children from budget cuts

Free school meals are a key way to tackle child poverty and 98% of teachers agree that all children in poverty should get a free school meal. This is what we are calling for in our Fair and Square campaign

We know from our work with families up and down the country that many are struggling just to provide their children with such basics as a hot, balanced meal and shoes for school.  

Even though the government has committed to ending child poverty by 2020, 800,000 more children will be pushed into poverty by this date, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Even by the government’s own admission the numbers are due to rise – as their decision to cap benefit and tax credit annual increases at 1% alone will push 200,000 more children into poverty

Children must be protected from the effects of budget cuts, failure to keep the minimum wage in line with the cost of living and soaring childcare costs if they are to be moved out of poverty.