Commenting on a new analysis showing the impact of the energy price cap rise, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"The state-of-the-nation report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals a deeply concerning increase in the number of children growing up in very deep poverty. It is shaming to our country that around 1.8 million children in the UK are growing up in very deep poverty, meaning their household’s income is so low that it is completely inadequate to cover the basics. 

"The effects of poverty in childhood can last a lifetime and impact on education in multiple ways. We know that from NEU’s own member research the impact that poverty has in the classroom. Indeed, an NEU survey of 10,000+ school and college staff in April 2021 found that almost all respondents (94%) believe poverty affects learning, with 51% saying it does so to a 'large extent'. (1) 

"There is no doubt that school staff have stepped up for their students during the pandemic, as they always do in a crisis. But their actions alone cannot compensate for this deep poverty and the Government needs to take urgent action to tackle this scourge. 

"In autumn 2021, the Government went ahead with the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit ignoring the warnings of teachers, charities, doctors, economists and even many of its own Conservative MPs about the impact it would have on rising rates of child poverty. The help that is now offered to families has been cut down to completely inadequate levels. On top of this, it is of great concern that the impact of rising energy bills is expected to be much harsher for families on low incomes. This will all have impacts too in our schools and on education. 

"It is vital that the Government takes urgent action to tackle the root causes of poverty, as well as the symptoms, in order to create the conditions in which all our school children can thrive and learn, ensuring that no child is held back as a result of poverty." 

Editor’s Note