An article in the Guardian today looks at the charities that headteachers are using to support their pupils living in poverty. The focus of the article is on headteacher Lorna Jackson, who speaks about the work carried out by her School-Home Support (SHS) Practitioner, as well as the other types of support she has accessed through our charity. Her opening story is genuinely heartbreaking, but we hope it enables more schools to hear about our work and access the support we can offer to struggling families.
“It was a sight Lorna Jackson, a London headteacher, had never expected to see: two pupils at her primary school sleeping behind bins at the station with their parents. “Mum, dad and the two little children were all sleeping on a mattress they’d found. The family had been evicted and the children had very little to eat.”
Jackson’s school, Maryland primary in Stratford, is in a deprived area of east London. As well as suffering homelessness, her pupils are regularly victims of domestic violence. “I realised that my role had changed. Unless I addressed our children’s wellbeing, their education was not going to have impact at all.”
Jackson is not alone in feeling this way. As Education Guardian recently reported, teachers are reaching into their own pockets to pay for anything from pregnancy tests to funerals for families at their schools. But not all staff can afford this. Teachers’ charities are seeing an increase in the number of teachers who are themselves struggling to make ends meet, with twice as many education workers applying for financial assistance grants from Turn2Us in 2017, compared with 2010. When some teachers are in dire financial circumstances themselves, how can they help their pupils get the long-term support these many children so desperately need?
Jackson turned to the education charity School-Home Support (SHS). Using money from her pupil premium budget, she installed an SHS practitioner in the school full time. Schools with these practitioners can access the charity’s welfare fund, which buys items for struggling families such as food, washing machines and school uniforms. The charity can also support families in navigating the benefits systems and court orders.”
You can read the full article here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/may/15/headteachers-turn-charities-families