‘Low cost food clubs’
With one in five schools now running ‘low cost food clubs’, poverty in east London boroughs has now become part of everyday life.
Teachers wash pupil’s clothes, many schools now have washing machines and tumble dryers on site to do laundry for their pupils.
The role of a teacher has now dramatically changed with additional duties including paying for their pupils food, clothes and survival, nothing like this is ever mentioned in the ‘how to be a teacher’ training starter pack.
An east London teacher who is in her tenth year working in an inner London comprehensive school, spoke with The Enquirer about the challenges they face on a daily basis in the world of teaching during this intense period of austerity.
The teacher, who did not wish to be named said, “I don’t think people would believe us if we told them all the things we do for our pupils everyday.
“It’s become part of the norm for us, we get told not to take the stress of our work home with us, but how can you not, when you know many of your pupils are going home to cold houses and no food and often no one at home.
“We can’t go home to our houses knowing we are eating and they are not, so we give them food.
“I actually go shopping for some of my pupils, not just food shopping but clothes. We see them come to school with old clothes or no coats. What do you do? Let them freeze? Of course not.
“We are in a caring profession, it breaks our hearts to see this and its getting worse every year,” she said almost tearful.“We go home to warm houses and we know we have food, they don’t.
“At break time we go to the canteen and get lunches for them, we get new school uniform for them, some teachers have even given parents money as they struggle to survive.
“I think one of the hardest parts is when we visit their homes, to see the poor conditions many of these families live in. No curtains, no carpets, flats with the bare minimum.
“This is how they are growing up, this is what is happening in our society today,”she continued.
With an increase in anti-social behaviour, many of these teenagers commit crimes as a consequence of their life style.
The teacher continued: “One of our pupils has been arrested for theft many times, if you speak to him and ask him why he is doing it, the answer is simple, he has nothing and when I say nothing I mean the very meaning of the word.”
“He comes from a broken home and he steals to provide food for himself and his sister. He calls it survival.”
Teaching is now facing not just the endless struggles of lesson plans, reports and Ofsted visits but a society where poverty has become a way of life.
”It is a way of life, these children are used to it, but most of them are such brave children.
“They don’t complain, they live each day as they can and face each struggle that comes to them.
“Our job varies nowadays, we have even organised new flats and helped parents get furniture. this is teaching today,” she finished.