NEU welcomes Keir Starmer's call for urgent efforts to close the education gap. To do this we need to end the debilitating poverty that so many families endure.
The UK is one of the richest counties in the world but today 4.2 million children are trapped in poverty. That means 30% of children, the equivalent of 9 pupils in each class of 30, have been let down
Poverty limits the life chances of children and significantly affects their educational experience and outcomes in school. Poverty also reinforces social exclusion throughout the school system, as children growing up in low income families often face barriers their peers never experience
What you can do
Education professionals are committed to the principle that education can make an enormous difference to children’s lives, but schools alone cannot address society-wide inequity and the effects of poverty on educational achievement.
In these unprecedented times, the government must take responsibility to ensure all children can learn and thrive.
Latest news on child poverty
Press release Press release
If the Government is serious about ensuring all pupils receive access to a good quality, equitable education they must put their money where their mouth is and put measures in place to lift pupils out of the grip of poverty and disadvantage.
This EPI report hows that the Government is increasing that gap, not closing it, through the way it is distributing its 2020 funding increase, with bigger increases going to those schools with fewer disadvantaged students.
NEU urges minister to end the two-child limit on child benefit
Even in normal times, no parent can be sure that their financial security will withstand unpredictable events such as illness, bereavement or redundancy. Certainly no parent could have had foresight of COVID-19, which has seen an additional 1.5 million new claims to Universal Credit in the first month of social distancing measures being put in place. The NEU and 50 other organisations is calling for an end to the 2 child limit before thousands more families are pushed into poverty.
Sixty organisations press Chancellor for emergency COVID-19 child benefit rise
The National Education Union is proud to stand with nearly 70 organisations calling for more support for families pushed into crisis during the lockdown. An additional £10 in child benefit per week will ensure parents can cover the basic costs of raising their children in the face of reduced income, and protect families from unnecessary hardship during this difficult time. Read the full press release.
The NEU joins 80 leaders and academics to call on the Government and Chancellor for urgent action to stop Covid-19 pushing families into debt
The ongoing lockdown threatens to push thousands of families into debt. With 4.2 million children trapped in poverty and household costs rising as more people stay at home, the National Education Union is proud to stand with 80 organisations and academics to call for urgent action against rising household dept.
The facts about child poverty
Poverty has a significant impact on the educational experience and attainment of many children growing up in the UK. Moreover, research indicates there is a stronger relationship between parental social background and children’s test scores in England than in many other rich countries.
Regional child poverty figures released by the End Child Poverty coalition in January 2018 show that there are now constituencies where more than half of children are growing up in poverty.
Child poverty is on the rise
The IFS predict that unless there is a significant shift in government policy, by 2022 5.2 million children will be trapped in poverty. Teachers and support staff see the increasing effects of poverty on the children they teach everyday at the chalk face.
A snapshot poll of NEU members found that 62% of respondents have witnessed an increase in child poverty in their school or college over the last 5 years.
More than a third of respondents told us they have bought food for pupils who cannot afford it (36%), school equipment like stationery (57%), and even items of school uniform (21%).
Child poverty and its impact on learning
Increased concern about worsening levels of child poverty and its impact on learning was highlighted in the NEU's 2019 State of Education survey. Members are deeply concerned by the effects of poverty and low income on the learning of their students, with an overwhelming 91% agreeing it to be a factor. Education professionals are reporting a significant increase in the visibility of child poverty in their school/college and provided us with many distressing examples from daily life.
Some students have mentioned that they have not had any food for two days, some come without having breakfast and with no dinner money but are not on free school meals.
When asked in a multiple-choice question to identify the impacts on learning that could be attributed to poverty, over three-quarters of respondents told us that their students demonstrated fatigue (78%), poor concentration (76%) or poor behaviour (75%). More than half of members said their students had experienced hunger (57%) or ill health (50%) as a result of poverty, and more than a third (35%) said students had been bullied because of it.