WIDESPREAD inequality is leading to a “Dickensian” Britain with half-starved pupils turning up at school, teachers warned yesterday.
Almost four in 10 teachers surveyed by the ATL know of pupils who come to school hungry, have no lunch money and do not receive free school meals.
London branch’s John Puckrin warned during a debate on the issue that poverty damages children’s learning.
Describing the problem as “Dickensian,” ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “The effect of hunger on pupils’ learning is evident, and it is shocking that in the 21st century so many pupils still come to school hungry with no means to buy lunch.
“With many families having to rely on charities such as foodbank handouts, we risk returning to a Victorian era rife with inequality.”
The union called on the government to commission research on child hunger and its effects on learning, and to support holiday provision programmes that include meals.
A Department for Education spokesman said all infant pupils can get free school meals.