‘There are many children who come to school not having eaten breakfast and often their parents can’t afford to feed them three meals a day,’ were the heartbreaking words of a Hornchurch school teacher.
In an exclusive interview with the Havering Daily, the secondary school teacher who did not wish to be named, speaks openly about the high levels of poverty affecting children today and how school teachers are now providing food and clothing for them.
‘My school began a ‘Breakfast Club’ to help provide children with a regular breakfast. We noticed that the level of pupils coming in to school who had not eaten breakfast was starting to increase, so the breakfast club was the best solution.
‘Many teachers today provide food for their pupils, what else can we do? We know we can go home and eat but often many of these pupils cannot, so we can’t leave them without food.
‘I have seen a pupil have half a sandwich everyday and when I asked him where the other half of the sandwich was, he replied that he sister had it. So they were sharing half a sandwich each. It’s heartbreaking events like this that made us set up the Breakfast Club, to help our pupils.’
The teacher goes on to talk about how poverty is on the increase across east London.
‘My school is in Dagenham, so we have pupils from Dagenham, Barking and Havering and as teachers we have noticed a big increase in poverty.
‘Many parents can’t afford to buy their children school uniform, everyday we are either buying blazers or asking the office if we can have a free one as the pupil is in no position to be able to buy one.
‘We had a pupil who was missing physical education classes (PE) even though he seemed so eager to join in. When we looked into the issue we discovered that his mum couldn’t afford to buy his PE kit. So the kit was provided for him.
‘These may seem shocking stories for others but they aren’t for us, it’s part of teaching now. We aren’t shocked, we know we go to school and we will feed and cloth pupils. It isn’t something we complain about, we just view it as our job. What else can we do? We are in a caring role, someone needs to help these children.’
The school teacher, who has been teaching for over ten years is saddened by the way our society is today.
‘It is sad yes to see this, but there is no point complaining about it, we do what we can to help these children and provide them with as many opportunities we can. Certainly there does seem an ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
‘I enjoy my job very much, there is a lot of pressure on teachers today and the issues we deal with are endless. We are teachers, carers, social workers, everything rolled into one.’