Reported by The Herald – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.

THEY arrive at school with pasty faces and bony kneecaps poking out from uniforms that are too tight, too short or too worn out.

Teachers tell of sluggish little people who just don’t have the energy they should. Homework doesn’t materialise, sick days just happen to coincide with school trips but it’s really because there’s no money at home to cover to the costs.

Already straggling behind, as each school week passes their hopes of catching up with better off classmates slip a little further through their tiny fingers.

It is, agrees Andrea Bradley of teachers’ union EIS, a desperate picture of education in Scotland today, where one in four children comes from a family gripped by poverty and where arriving in the classroom with rumbling tummies is just one disturbing element of potentially catastrophic shadow blighting thousands of young lives.

“It’s shocking and alarming for teachers,” says Bradley, the union’s assistant secretary. “Teachers tell us they know some children are not eating between leaving school at 3pm and arriving next day at 9am.

“They buy fruit and cereal bars for their classes and run breakfast clubs. We know there are other things that schools can do that minimise the damage done by the kind of societal inequality over which teachers have no control.”

The complex issues facing 230,000 Scots children in poverty – not all of them living in obviously deprived areas and a significant number from working families – and a raft of strategies aimed at helping educators to ease their plight, are now to form part of a major project to be delivered to the nation’s schools.

Currently being devised by the EIS, the country’s largest teaching union, in partnership with the Scottish Government, a £250,000 two-year project intends to equip educators – many from comfortable backgrounds with no personal experience of living in poverty – with the skills to spot pupils experiencing hardship in the hope of boosting their prospects and closing the attainment gap.



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