Congress recognises the growing poverty in our society and that differences in the social background of pupils are the primary factor causing inequality in educational outcomes.
Levels of child poverty remain at an unacceptable level, rising from 3.9 million to 4.2 million last year. Many families living in poverty are surviving on low wages and 71 per cent of children living in poverty are in working households.
Congress believes that all children in England should be guaranteed access to the food that they need to live healthy lives and that good nutrition in childhood is essential for this critical period in rapid growth. Without it, health outcomes worsen as do children’s life chances, as well as pressure on the NHS.
The current cost- of-living crisis is seeing rising numbers of families having to make stark choices including whether or not they can afford to feed their children. No government should knowingly allow any child to go hungry when we have the ability to provide support.
Dieticians and other health professionals see the consequences of child food poverty every day with rising malnutrition leading to conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Congress agrees that universal free school meals for all primary school children would reduce inequality and the stigmatisation of pupils experiencing food poverty.
Congress notes that the cost-of-living crisis has further exacerbated inequality and will leave millions of families on or below the poverty line. By the end of 2022, soaring inflation had left households £800 poorer, the biggest fall in more than a Century. In the UK 800,000 children are living in poverty but are not eligible for free school meals, while almost 4 million are experiencing food insecurity.
Congress recognises that we, the trade union movement, have a responsibility to show solidarity with workers, families, and children by making it clear that the Government has utterly failed these students through a decade of failure to address poverty.
i. Condemns the inadequate support to schools during and after the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of support for pastoral and socio-emotional development;
ii. Congratulates the NEU on their campaign “No Child Left Behind”
III. Calls on the TUC to continue to campaign for free school meals for all primary school children including the Labour Party to commit to this in its General Election Manifesto
iv. Calls on education Unions to jointly advocate for free school meals and ambitious social policies to end poverty.
v. Calls on unions to support the BDA and the education unions in their universal free school meals campaigns.
vi. Calls for the TUC to continue to campaign for the removal of barriers to learning for children such as inadequate social security and costs of schooling;