Teachers paying to provide basics for pupils
TEACHERS are increasingly paying from their own pockets to provide basic classroom resources and essentials for pupils, a survey has found.
The results have been published by the NASUWT union ahead of at its annual national conference in Belfast this weekend.
Members said they had to dip into their own funds to buy classroom materials and even food, clothing and toiletries for children.
Some claimed they got themselves into debt because of purchasing items for lessons.
More schools are finding themselves in the red. Since 2012/13, the number in deficit increased from 197 to 315. In that same period, those with a surplus decreased from 856 to 711.
One in five teachers surveyed said they bought resources with their own money once a week and more than one in 10 said they did this several times a week.
Almost two in three said they had paid for paper or stationery for their classroom, 64 per cent bought arts and crafts materials and 43 per cent textbooks or reading books.
When asked why they had purchased the resources, more than half (53 per cent) said it was because of funding pressures on their school.
Three in 10 said it was because the resources provided by their school were increasingly out of date or unsuitable and 28 per cent said their school was choosing to spend money on other things rather than purchasing classroom resources.
Many claimed the amount of items they were buying had increased in the last three years, with two thirds saying they were never reimbursed by their school or college and a further 30 per cent saying they were only reimbursed in part.
Nearly half (45 per cent) said they also spent their own money buying basic necessities for pupils in the last year, with three-quarters having purchased food, 29 per cent toiletries and 23 per cent clothing or shoes.
The amount of basics being bought had increased in the last year according to almost half those surveyed.
NASUWT Northern Ireland official Justin McCamphill said teachers were being left to pick up the pieces of failed education, social and economic policies.
"Evidence shows that many teachers are facing financial hardship themselves as a result of year on year pay cuts, and yet faced with increasing child poverty some are shouldering further financial burdens to support their pupils," he said.
"Teachers care deeply about the pupils they teach and will go to great lengths to ensure their needs are being met."