“We have noticed a rise in children coming to school tired as they have no heating on at home and find it difficult to sleep on cold nights. The rise in poverty in my school’s community is shocking and stark.”

Tackling poverty must be placed at the heart of the government’s plans if it is to achieve any of its education ambitions, the new president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has said.

In his inaugural address, Dr Paul Gosling painted a bleak picture of the impact of rising poverty and the on-going impact of a cost-of-living crisis on families.

He spoke poignantly about the children and families at his school, Exeter Road Community Primary School in Exmouth in Devon, describing situations that many school leaders and teachers across the country will recognise.

He said: “When I became the headteacher of Exeter Road 13 years ago, the percentage of children receiving free school meals at the school was around 30%. In the January census 2022, that figure was 45%. The rise in poverty in my school’s community is shocking and stark.

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