Schools in England Are Increasingly Hosting Food Banks to Feed Pupils and Families
Schools are becoming a “fourth emergency service,” a headteachers' leader said.
The number of English schools setting up food banks to help feed pupils and their families has increased since last year, a survey by an association of school governors has found.
The annual survey from the National Governance Association (NGA), found that the number of governors working in schools with food banks on site had risen to 8% — up from 7% last year.
In response, the association has said that schools are taking on increasing welfare responsibilities due to “chronic underfunding in other areas,” the BBC reported.
School governors are parents or volunteers from the local community who sit on the school board, monitoring its performance and making recommendations.
The NGA, the largest organisation representing governors in the UK, asked 6,000 of its members working across England about the challenges being faced by the schools they work at.
“There is an increasing demand on schools to take responsibility for more areas of children’s lives than simply their education,” Emma Knights, the chief executive of the NGA, said about the report.
"School staff have an increased burden of providing welfare services because of chronic underfunding in other areas and particularly cuts to local authority services," Knights added.
Governors also noted that teachers and schools were increasingly washing clothes for pupils and organising meals during the school holidays. The report found that 2% of nursery school governors said their school was providing emergency loans to parents.
Governors are also concerned about funding for pupils with additional needs, inews.co.uk reported. The majority, 78% of respondents, said their school was not funded adequately to meet needs and many identified it is a priority area for any additional funding.
A further 61% said that they didn't think the school had enough funding to support disadvantaged pupils.
Geoff Barton, a former head teacher and head of the Association of School and College Leaders union, said that schools faced “rising levels of poverty”.
He said schools were becoming a "fourth emergency service providing clothing, food, and pastoral support to many young people in extremely difficult circumstances."
"Pupils would not be ready to learn without this support," he added.
The ASCL did its own survey earlier this year of over 400 schools and found that 43% had helped families help with food in some way. They weren’t necessarily setting up and running regular food banks, according to the survey, but were occasionally having to give out food parcels.