A study has blamed the recession for growing numbers of youngsters arriving at school malnourished, dirty and struggling to concentrate.
Researchers found that almost six-in-10 teachers had experienced hungry pupils at least once a week.
The study was undertaken by the Prince's Trust and the Times Educational Supplement, and comes in the wake of the news that the country is back in recession.
In disturbing revelations, some staff even said they had come across children scavenging for scraps of food, or using school as their only opportunity to warm up and have a good meal.
The study also revealed teachers' fears that increasing youth unemployment will leave their students facing a future on benefits.
Teachers told the researchers stories of hungry, cold children, desperate to keep warm and fill their tummies. One said they had seen a child arrive at school 'wearing a soaking wet uniform. He washed it in the morning as his mother had failed to do so due to being inebriated. He didn't know how to use the drier so came in wet.'
Over five hundred secondary school teachers were interviewed for the survey, which also found that nearly two-thirds of staff saw pupils on a weekly basis who did not have clean clothes. A staggering 40 per cent said they witnessed this every day.
Most shockingly, 39 per cent of staff said they experienced hungry pupils every day, with 57 per cent witnessing it on a weekly basis.
Additionally, 16 per cent of teachers said they had seen a student suffering from malnutrition, or displaying other signs of not having eaten enough. Thirteen per cent of school staff said they had encountered this weekly.
We reported earlier this month how the ATL was warning that children are going hungry in school
down to smaller portion sizes - but how shocking is this that they are arriving starving from home?
Your child could get support and coaching via The Aviva UKA Academy run though schools and local athletics clubs. Find out more at <a href="http://www.uka.org.uk/" target="_blank">Uka.org.uk</a>; 0121 713 8400.</p>
- Martial arts
TeamGB has some top stars in Olympic martial art events. If your child want to try judo find a local club at <a href="http://www.britishjudo.org.uk/" target="_blank">Britishjudo.org.uk</a> or if taekwondo is more their thing log on to <a href="http://www.britishtaekwondo.org.uk/" target="_blank">Britishtaekwondo.org.uk. </a></p>
- The Gold Challenge
Fancy challenging yourself and the family this summer? The Gold Challenge is a chance to have a go at a bunch of different Olympic Sports and raise money for charity at the same time either individually or as part of a team. The Family Activity Challenge gives you the opportunity to learn a new sport and take part in a run cycle, swim or walk. Check out the website <a href="http://family.goldchallenge.org/" target="_blank">Family.goldchallenge.org</a> for more details or go to <a href="http://www.thegamesandbeyond.com/" target="_blank">Thegamesandbeyond.com</a> for details of how to take part in a whole host of other Olympic sports.</p>
Get them all of a quiver by trying archery. You can find a club through Archery GB and there’s even a talent selection weekend at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire 26-27<sup>th</sup> May. For details visit <a href="http://www.archerygb.org/" target="_blank">Archerygb.org</a>.</p>
Any budding Louis Smith can go to a training taster session at a club which cost just a few pounds. Call British Gymnastics on 0845 1297129 or visit <a href="http://www.british-gymnastics.org/" target="_blank">British-gymnastics.org</a> for more info.</p>
If the local leisure centre hasn’t quite got that big Games feel, seek out one of the nation’s Olympic sized pools like the one at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre used by some of the 2012 hopefuls. A family swim for non members is £7. Visit <a href="http://www.liverpool.gov.uk/" target="_blank">Liverpool.gov.uk</a> or Tel 0151 233 8850 for info.</p>
The first port of call would be one of 2,200 sailing clubs around Britain. Most offer taster sessions and courses for youngsters. To find a local club call Royal Yachting Association on 0845 345 0400 or visit <a href="http://www.rya.org.uk/" target="_blank">Rya.org.uk</a>.</p>
Get your children’s school into Quicksticks – or organise your own event. It’s a new version of hockey for 7-11 year olds designed as an introduction to the sport. See <a href="http://www.playquicksticks.co.uk./" target="_blank">Playquicksticks.co.uk</a> for more details.</p>
- Canoeing and rowing
Do they want to stick their oar in? Call one of the 550 rowing clubs across Britain. Find the nearest to at <a href="http://www.britishrowing.org/" target="_blank">Britishrowing.org/</a>. For canoeing visit the British Canoe Union’s website at <a href="http://www.bcu.org.uk/" target="_blank">Bcu.org.uk</a> or call 08453 709 500. There’s also the brilliant National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham complete with white water course. Taster sessions for eight year olds and over in kayaking, sailing or canoeing are from £10-20 an hour. See <a href="http://www.nwscnotts.com/" target="_blank">Nwscnotts.com</a> or call 0115 982 1212.</p>
- Track cycling
Try out one of the state of the art velodromes offering beginner sessions and courses for children. There’s the Wales National Veldorome in Newport, 01633 656 757 and a track at Calshot near Southampton,<span style="text-decoration: underline;"> </span><a href="http://www.calshot.com/" target="_blank">Calshot.com/</a>Tel:023 8089 2077.</p>
At The National Cycling Centre in Manchester you could watch Team GB training, before taking to the track yourself. They offer regular taster sessions to children aged nine. <a href="http://www.nationalcyclingcentre.com/" target="_blank">Nationalcyclingcentre.com</a>/Tel: 0161 223 2244.</p>
There’s also the Herne Hill Velodrome in London, which hosted cycling events at the 1948 London Olympics, where kids can take to the 450 metre track in novice trainer sessions.<a href="http://www.hernehillvelodrome.com/" target="_blank"> Hernehillvelodrome.com</a>.</p>
If they want to rough it up a bit like British BMX Olympic hopeful Shanaze Reade there are fifty tracks across the UK to try out. See the British Cycling website for details of those near you, <a href="http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/" target="_blank">britishcycling.org.uk</a> /Tel: 0870 871 2000.</p>
As well as local riding clubs contact the The Pony Club at <a href="http://www.pcuk.org/" target="_blank">Pcuk.org</a> for local events and the British Young Riders Dressage Scheme at <a href="http://www.britishdressage.co.uk/under_25s" target="_blank">Britishdressage.co.uk/under_25s</a>.</p>