Schoolchildren filling pockets with food so they don't go hungry at the weekend

Desperate children are filling their pockets with food on Fridays (Getty Images)
Desperate children are filling their pockets with food on Fridays (Getty Images)

Schoolchildren in Birmingham are filling their pockets with food on Fridays so they don’t go hungry over the weekends, according to a head teacher in the city.

The issue was uncovered in a report about the problems faced by children growing up in poverty in the areas of Kingstanding and Erdington.

It also found that a number of pupils in the area grow up in homes without any books or toys, arrive at school without eating breakfast, and only leave the estates they live on to go on school trips.

Helen Slack, headteacher of Twickenham Primary School, is one of the seven heads who commissioned the study.

She told the Birmingham Mail: ‘The projection is that our school will be £80,000 a year worse off by 2020. But we have huge challenges with many families living in real poverty.

‘We have children filling their pockets with food on Fridays because they may not get a substantial meal all weekend. We’ve given food parcels to families, that can’t be right in the 21st Century.

‘We open half an hour earlier to give them a free breakfast, provide uniforms, trips, music lessons, sports for free. We offer support to families, the school is a real hub in the community.’

For some children, the only square meals they eat are at school (PA Images)
For some children, the only square meals they eat are at school (PA Images)

But Ms Slack warned that cuts to schools’ funding are threatening the work they are able to do for children, particularly those who are behind in their education.

‘They come here performing way below the national average and leave here above. Education is the one chance they have of getting out of poverty. All that is at risk,’ she said.

Labour MP Jack Dromey echoed Ms Slack’s warning, saying that schools and teachers’ ability to help their pupils will be affected by cuts.

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He said: ‘It is nothing short of tragic now to see the damage being done to the life chances of a whole generation by cuts to school budgets.

‘This is the first generation growing up since the War with worse prospects than their mums and dads.’

Geoff Barton, general secretary, Association of School and College Leaders, slammed the Government’s funding of schools in October.

He said: ‘School budgets are at breaking point. They need at least an extra £2 billion per year to avoid having to cut staff, cut classes, or limit what they teach.

‘The autumn budget is the last chance for money to make it to schools this year.

‘Unless the chancellor finds more money to protect education, we will be perilously close to the end of the line for high-standards.’