More than a third of teachers who have witnessed holiday hunger among the pupils in their schools report that pupils return to school with signs of malnourishment.
A survey conducted by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) into teacher’s experiences of holiday hunger found that over half (51%) of respondents said that pupils at their school were affected by holiday hunger. Of these respondents who had witnessed holiday hunger, 37% reported that they had seen signs of malnourishment after the holidays, further highlighting the growing crisis around holiday hunger.
The survey of 600 primary school teachers also revealed that 39% of respondents who had seen pupils affected by holiday hunger said it was affecting more than a quarter of pupils in their school, with 12% saying half or more experienced holiday hunger.
What is all the more concerning is that 80% of survey respondents who said pupils in their school were affected by it reported that the numbers affected had increased over the last two years.
They recognise a case for something to be done. 73% said their pupils’ education was being negatively affected as a consequence of holiday hunger, while social wellbeing and physical health is also impacted. Just 15% of teachers were aware of local initiatives to tackle holiday hunger.
“These are heart-breaking findings which lay bare the terrible impact of poverty on the lives and educational experiences of many children. This situation should not be tolerated at all, let alone be allowed to persist in the sixth richest economy in the world,” said Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT.
“As this survey demonstrates, teachers are acutely aware of the distressing effects of poverty on the children they teach. When children come to school hungry or malnourished, this has a negative impact on their physical and mental wellbeing and it also impairs their ability to learn by reducing their ability to concentrate.”