Some British teachers are taking food to give their pupils breakfast every day because they are too hungry and exhausted to learn, says a new report.

A survey of 4000 teachers paints a Dickensian picture of children turning up to school cold and malnourished, wearing unwashed or unsuitable clothes because their families are poor.

It blames increasing poverty, caused by the policies of the Conservative-led Government.

It concluded that the educational opportunities for thousands of children were being blighted by the effect of Government policies.


A separate study found children were dropping arts subjects and missing school trips because parents could not afford them.

The findings follow warnings from the Children's Commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, and church leaders that young people are being hit hardest by the Government's austerity programme.

Eight per cent of teachers questioned said they had seen pupils lacking in energy and concentration as a result of eating poorly, the survey by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers found.

Twenty-seven per cent said they brought in food for pupils because they knew the children were too hungry to learn.

And 55 per cent said pupils were missing out on education activities because they had no money to pay for them.

Union president Geoff Branner, a special needs teacher in Oxfordshire, said that his school was having to provide free breakfasts for a growing number of students.

Children were coming to school too tired to concentrate because their bedrooms were so cold they could not sleep.

He said the Government should do more to tackle the rising numbers of children being plunged into poverty.


The report said housing was also a problem with 27 per cent of respondents saying they knew of pupils who had lost their homes and 36 per cent saying they had taught pupils who were living in temporary accommodation.

- Independent