Union leader warns that schools are becoming the A&E departments of communities, as they are increasingly supporting struggling families
The new leader of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Tony Draper has warned teachers are struggling to deal with the impact of austerity measures on families.
Draper said schools are becoming the “A&E departments of communities”. Teachers are supporting families that are struggling due to austerity measures brought in by the government. He said schools had no choice but to intervene and help when families were in dire straits.
During the NAHT’s annual conference next week, the union is expected to bring to light the growing pressure on schools to act as safety nets for their neighbourhoods. The union will reveal that schools are increasingly providing food, clothes, laundry, and washing facilities for needy children and their families.
Draper, who is the head of a school in a disadvantaged community on the Lakes Estate, said: “At my school, the amount of help and the different types of help we’re providing is increasing.
“In a way, schools are like the A&E departments of communities. We’re the first and last point of contact for many families. If we see a struggling family or we have a child in our class who needs help, we help.
“There are no ifs or buts. There are no judgements about whether we have the capacity to help. We just have to get stuck in.”
Draper warned the number of families requiring intervention from children’s services had also seen “a big rise”.
“It’s an area of quite significant deprivation, but wonderful families and brilliant children,” said Draper.
“In our experience, there has been a big rise in families that have experienced difficulties and the involvement of children’s services.
“There are some families getting into difficulties on the estate who are needing regular food parcels.
“The bedroom tax has meant there can be issued with finances; families having to move; parents having to take jobs paying less than they were getting in benefits; families going way below the poverty line. Some of them are struggling quite severely.
“But there are a lot of families who are in difficulties through no fault of their own. They are being harmed, and their children are being harmed, and these children deserve so much more than that.”