“Second-hand uniform banks” for poor children

“Two million children in England have been sent to school in dirty, ill-fitting or incorrect uniform, a children’s charity has said.

A Mirror probe has uncovered a surge in cash-strapped families who rely on handouts from uniform banks for school kit, including basic essentials such as coats, shoes and even underwear.

Figures last month revealed 4.1 million children are in living in poverty and 70% of those are in working families.

An estimated 13% of UK children live in families who are getting into debt to pay for school kit, with 17% cutting back on basic essentials, including food, to dress children for school, according to Children’s Society research.

In response, dozens of uniform banks and exchanges have been set up across Britain.

Sam Royston, of the Children’s Society, said: “These community groups… are clearly in high demand, but it is distressing so many families are getting to this point in the first place.”

Kate France founded the Uniform Exchange, in Kirklees, West Yorks, which provides kit for pupils at 181 schools.

Requests have surged from 600 in 2017 to 800 last year.

This year they are on track to clothe 1,200 children.

Kate said: “We have seen a huge growth. I have also seen a rise in underwear requests from families who need socks, tights, pants and vests.

“I can’t believe that families haven’t got the basics – I find it really sad.”

Nicola Roderick, 25, of Holmfirth, who uses the Exchange, said: “Spending £20 for a jumper is hard when your disposable income is very little…”

A Government spokesperson said: “We’re helping parents to move into full-time work to give families the best opportunity to move out of poverty.

“Meanwhile we have made clear to schools that when setting uniform policies they should keep costs to a minimum and be mindful that they are affordable for everyone.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/demand-donated-uniforms-spikes-two-14249909

“Cash-strapped primary school forced to turn off lights for a day each week”

“A school is forced to turn off lights one day a week because of Tory cuts.

Campaigners said the head made the decision to provide cash elsewhere in the budget.

Other schools are closing at lunchtime on Fridays to save money while some heads are working shifts at other schools to raise funds.

There are also reports of heads cleaning toilets as well as acting as caretakers while support staff face the axe.

Sue McMahon, of West Yorkshire group Calderdale Against School Cuts, said the shocking accounts were from a survey of schools which showed senior staff in “an intolerable position”.

She added: “We recently told of a caretaker working with­out the lights on. It is the same with the primary school with no lights.” The school is not being named for fear of driving away parents. …”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/cash-strapped-primary-school-forced-14241472

Education: who do you believe? Local MP or local headmistress?

WHICH REFLECTS REALITY:

“More funding than ever’ going in to schools says East Devon MP”
A funding boost in this year’s education budget is set to benefit East Devon schools, MP Sir Hugo Swire has been told.

The Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds told the East Devon MP that the core schools budget is set to rise to £43.5 billion for 2019-20, meaning ‘more money than ever’ is going into education.

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/sir-hugo-swire-meeting-with-secretary-state-education-1-5963810

OR

‘Devon school’s staff redundancies are ‘heartbreaking’

Jayne Keller, head at Sherwell Valley Primary School in Torquay, said 13 teaching assistants had lost their jobs due to financial pressures.

The latest figures from the government show that the number of teachers in Devon’s schools has dropped by 284 from 2016/17 to 2017/18, and there are 367 fewer teaching assistants.

The government said more money than ever before is going into schools.

But Ms Keller said there was “nothing left to cut”.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-47615014

“When Will Britain Acknowledge Our Countryside Poverty?”

“… If you live in a rural environment your chances of being successful in life are very much linked to your early years. I live in rural Worcestershire, and went to college from rural North Yorkshire. I remain the only degree educated person in my family and the reasons are clear – opportunities in rural areas are not as abundant for young people as they are in cities. As a result, our countryside has become a social mobility coldspot, with my local council of Wychavon rated 310th out of 324 councils in a recent government report. If your parents are plumbers or cleaners, bakers or builders, the chances are you will follow in their footsteps. For some, through choice, but for others, it is because options are limited.

It is easy to hide social mobility in the countryside. My town of Pershore is generally a well-off and affluent area. House prices and wages are above the national average, the town is a great place to raise children and the schools are generally good. But if you are from a working-class background and work in the service industry the average house prices of £300,000 quickly make the experience of living in the area unsustainable. And the recent revelation that house prices have been forced upwards by the government’s Help to Buy scheme, just adds to the issues people face. With housing unaffordable, people are struggling to help their children access opportunities to increase their chances in life.

Education is the key to success. Education opens doors to all, regardless of backgrounds. But in a rural area, education opportunities can be very limited. Schools have the added pressures of large catchment areas, with children travelling from a wide area. Class sizes can also be small and, in the current educational climate, unsustainable. So schools have to focus on traditional GCSE and A level subjects, limiting their students’ knowledge of other, potentially inspiring minority subjects. Similarly colleges focus on qualifications aimed at the local economy. In Pershore, our local college is an agricultural centre so, if a young person wants to study ancient history or geology, electrical engineering or photography, they must travel to neighbouring towns. This commute requires time and the money, and is also restricted further by the continued reduction of bus services in the area.

But it is an even bigger issue for the local economy if young people decide to go to university. As young men and women move into cities to study at university, they create a rural brain drain. This results in a drop in the 18-30 year old population, which further limits the opportunities of those who remain as it keeps job opportunities in traditional low paid professions. New industries rarely emerge and there are few incentives for young locals to return after graduation. With limited public transport and sluggish roll-out of high speed broadband graduates find no drive to return to their childhood homes. …

… Of course not everything is perfect in major cities, but it is clear that opportunities are more accessible and education is the driving force that helps students from more deprived environments succeed in life. Wychavon, however, is struggling to keep up with the pace, with education opportunities limited and access to transport becoming ever more a problem. Has social mobility stopped? Certainly not. But if you live in a rural area, your chances are being constrained, and maybe we need to seek alternative approaches to help our rural young people succeed.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/countryside-poverty_uk_5c7da47de4b060c5e078048c

Exmouth College parents being asked for donations to ease budget cuts

“Parents at one of Devon’s biggest secondary schools are being asked to pay a contribution of £15 for their first child, and £5 per sibling, to help the school cope with budget cuts.

The Principal of Exmouth Community College, Andrew Davis, said in a letter to parents the financial situation is “really tough”, with rising costs and frozen budgets,

He said the contributions will help him “reinstate some of the budget lines” he has had to cut.

He’s also put out an appeal to the wider community for support, saying they can ring the school and pay with a debit or credit card.

Previously the government said more money was going into schools than ever before, with a record £43.5bn by 2020.

The Principal of Exmouth Community College, Andrew Davis, said in a letter to parents the financial situation is “really tough”, with rising costs and frozen budgets,

He said the contributions will help him “reinstate some of the budget lines” he has had to cut.

He’s also put out an appeal to the wider community for support, saying they can ring the school and pay with a debit or credit card.

Previously the government said more money was going into schools than ever before, with a record £43.5bn by 2020.The Principal of Exmouth Community College, Andrew Davis, said in a letter to parents the financial situation is “really tough”, with rising costs and frozen budgets,

He said the contributions will help him “reinstate some of the budget lines” he has had to cut.

He’s also put out an appeal to the wider community for support, saying they can ring the school and pay with a debit or credit card.

Previously the government said more money was going into schools than ever before, with a record £43.5bn by 2020.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-47573963

“Schools have become ‘fourth emergency service’ for poorest families”

It makes one ashamed to be British. “Suffer the little children …” and they do.

“Schools have become “an unofficial fourth emergency service” for vulnerable families across England and Wales, offering food parcels, clothing and laundry facilities to those worst affected by austerity, according to a new report by a headteachers’ union.

A majority of the 400 school leaders surveyed by the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL) said they were seeing a “rising tide” of poverty among their pupils, at a time when they were having to cut their own budgets and receiving less support from local councils.

Sarah Bone, headteacher of Headlands school, a comprehensive in Yorkshire’s East Riding, said: “We have far too many children with no heating in the home, no food in the cupboards, washing themselves with cold water, walking to school with holes in their shoes and trousers that are ill-fitted and completely worn out, and living on one hot meal a day provided at school.”

Other heads reported pupils with no winter coats, while others said they regularly had to buy shoes for their pupils.

“A decade of austerity has wreaked havoc with the social fabric of the nation and schools have been left to pick up the pieces while coping with real-term funding cuts,” said Geoff Barton, the ASCL’s general secretary.

“They have become an unofficial fourth emergency service for poor and vulnerable children, providing food and clothing and filling in the gaps left by cutbacks to local services.

“Politicians must end their fixation with Brexit and work together to build a new sense of social mission in our country. We simply must do better for struggling families and invest properly in our schools, colleges and other vital public services …..

”Nine out of 10 heads said they gave clothes to their most disadvantaged pupils, and nearly half said they washed clothes for pupils. More than 40% reported operating a food bank at the school or giving food parcels to pupils and their families.

One school leader commented: “In 24 years of education I have not seen the extent of poverty like this. Children are coming to school hungry, dirty and without the basics to set them up for life. The gap between those that have and those that do not is rising and is stark.”

Another teacher said some families had nowhere left to go for help: “We have seen an increase in the number of families needing support for basic human needs.”

Edward Conway, headteacher of St Michael’s Catholic high school in Watford, said: “Pupil poverty has increased significantly over the past eight years, with us providing food, clothing, equipment and securing funds from charitable organisations to provide essential items such as beds and fridges.” …

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/15/schools-have-become-fourth-emergency-service-for-poorest-families

“‘It’s dangerous’: full chaos of funding cuts in England’s schools revealed”

“The impact of the funding crisis in England’s schools is laid bare in a Guardian investigation that reveals a system falling apart at the seams, with teachers covering for canteen staff and cleaners while essential funds are raised by parent donations and “charity” non-uniform days.

Teachers and parents who responded to a Guardian callout complained there was not enough money even for basics such as textbooks, stationery and science equipment. They say children with special educational needs (SEN) are the hardest hit, as schools facing deficits struggle to fund additional support.

Schools that cannot afford cleaners are dirty and falling into disrepair. Staff have been made redundant, class sizes have gone up, subjects have been scrapped and teaching hours cut, as headteachers resort to desperate measures to make ends meet. “

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/08/its-dangerous-full-chaos-of-funding-cuts-in-englands-schools-revealed