Feed, Clothe, Care for, Educate….

A teacher’s remit is wider than people realise. Pretty much every teacher I know has worked with kids who come to school hungry – sometimes because there’s no food at home, some times because there is no one at home to make sure they have breakfast. I remember a kid who’d be given £1 to get breakfast on the way to school – and who’d turn up in form time with a massive slab of chocolate, pretty much every day for the whole year.

We’ve all taught kids with holey clothes, flappy shoes, no lunch, grimy faces, constant lice…. We do everything we can to plug the gaps. These are children not of ‘scroungers’ or ‘layabouts’ but of people who work so called ‘minimum wage’ jobs, on zero hours contracts, who don’t get tax credits any more. These people are part of the governments ’employment statistics’. Just because they are employed, it DOES NOT equate to improved standards of living – in fact quite the reverse. Parents working shifts, leaving kids to look after themselves, still not able to afford things like school uniforms, or the ever increasing price of the laundrette and prepaid electricity.

Meanwhile, the government bang on that teachers need to do more about this and more about that – if we weren’t so busy worrying about the welfare of the children in front of us and the increasingly poor circumstances many of them find themselves in, if schools weren’t being used as social catcalls for the poverty and deprivation in this country, required to: provide hot meals, after-school babysitting (sorry cross-curricula enrichment), social care and guidance, and prevent terrorism, then maybe we could focus on education but as it is, some things are more important.

It scares me how quickly the government seem to have undone our social welfare system and begun returning us to a Victorian morality – the rich get rich, the poor get cholera….. Anyway, enough ranting. The brass tacks are basically that more and more kids are being picked up at school because they need social care and because there’s no one else to do it, the teachers are.

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