Edinburgh primary teacher highlights hungry, unwashed children living in poverty

One of the Capital’s primary school teachers has opened up about the extent of child poverty faced by staff on a daily basis.

Saturday, 17th August 2019, 12:38 pm
Teaching staff are often the front-line of support for families in poverty

Claire Robertson addressed the city council’s education, children and families committee, sharing her often-distressing experiences as the first port of call for struggling families.

She said: “Some of the children appear dirty and clothes are often unwashed or inappropriate for the season.

“Some children find coping in class very challenging and experience episodes or tiredness – with some children requiring a quiet area to sleep during the school day, crying and lashing out at others when they can’t cope.

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“Five families were evicted in the last school session from our school – it’s affected 16 children. Four families had to move out of the catchment area, requiring a change of school. One family had disability payments and support temporarily stopped as they were placed outside the city.”

She added: “Two years ago, when we had to close the school due to adverse weather conditions, on returning to school we were shocked to see the children at breakfast club eating breakfast with two spoons out of two bowls as they had had no food since they had left the school.

“We witness children’s physical development being delayed, nursery children attending using nappies, without the vocabulary expected at that stage and not being able to grow at the expected rate.

“Although there is a local food bank, which is only open once a week, the school staff contribute to an in-school food bank – which can be accessed by parents.”