EuropeHuman Rights

Poor students in UK quitting school over inability to afford clothes, equipment

UK teachers say poor students continue to drop out of schools only because of their ‘worn-out’ clothes that bring them shame among classmates.


A Sunday report in The Independent showed that UK child poverty was worsening as many pupils had no means to continue education.

The report cited a survey of 8,600 teachers by the National Education Union (NEU) which showed students’ ability to learn had been undermined by lack of equipment as well as proper food and clothes.

More than a third of teachers reported bullying of children in UK schools because of hunger or ill health as result of poverty, a fact more than half of the teachers confirmed existed in schools across the country.

The teachers said pupils were reluctant to attend schools in non-uniform days as they were noticed and shamed by their classmates.

“They cannot afford basic school equipment such as a pen, ruler, pencil and scientific calculator or even PE kit, and will often miss school to avoid being ridiculed for lacking such,” said one teacher.

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Children in UK school ‘eating from bins’, head teacher saysA UK school headmaster says her pupils are so hungry they eat from bins.

Some teachers said children were hiding in school toilets during lunchtime because they were ashamed of the food they bring to school.

Fatigue, poor concentration or bad behavior were main classroom traits identified by teachers as linked to poverty in UK schools, the NEU survey showed.

Teachers called on authorities to provide children with uniforms and food banks as an “everyday necessity” for them to be able to learn.

Child poverty has soared consistently in the UK, the fifth largest economy in the world, since the Conservatives took power in 2010 following a major recession. Nearly a fifth of the country’s population lives in poverty, including five million children, according to estimates by the United Nations.

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