Increasing numbers of disadvantaged families are asking schools for financial help, one survey reveals.

The findings from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) reveals that 75% of school leaders say they have seen an increase in parent numbers seeking help over the last five years.

The help being requested includes asking for advice on accessing food banks and welfare support.

Also, growing numbers of children are becoming ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ by their family’s poverty.

However, school leaders say the government needs to spend more.

Now, some schools are setting up food banks in a bid to deal with food poverty, but 90% of heads say they are unable to sustain support levels because of budget pressures.

Arriving at school hungry

One in five headteachers say they have seen an increase in children numbers arriving at school hungry.

One headteacher from Birmingham told researchers: “This year, we have seen additional emotional distress and strain among the children and we have seen families evicted and made homeless.

“In my 20 years, that’s not been the case at the school but in recent months we have seen families being impacted.”

Another Derbyshire headteacher said: “I’ve seen a child eat a biscuit for breakfast and then a mouldy bread for lunch and the parents then break down when confronted, saying they’ve not eaten either.”

A headteacher from North London said children are hungry and his school runs a food bank to help feed them at breakfast and lunch times.

The NAHT’s president, Judy Shaw, said: “I call on the government to lift their eyes from Brexit and look around for recognition, compassion and support. Do not leave it to schools for picking up the pieces.”

Determined to get more money for schools

Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, addressed the union’s annual conference last week saying he was keen to get more money for schools from the Treasury.

One delegate asked why teachers’ pay had not been increased, as was recommended by the government’s own advisory body, and Mr Hinds said that he didn’t want to put ‘more financial pressure on schools’.

The Department for Education has unveiled a £10 million schools package to boost discipline and provide money for consultations.

Mr Hinds also told delegates that school teachers and leaders need more protection on social media from parents.

He said: “Leaders and teachers should not be subject to abuse online for doing their jobs and I’m behind ensuring the whole school workforce goes about their work free from intimidation.

“No teacher should put up with vitriolic comments when we need to ensure they are protected.”