Half of teachers in England work with children who are homeless 

Half of teachers in England work with children who are homeless 

Our new research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Shelter shows the devasting impact of homelessness on children’s education. We found that half (49%) of teachers in England work at a school with children who are homeless or have become homeless in the last year.

Temporary accommodation is no place for a child

Many families with children who are homeless live in ‘temporary accommodation’, such as hostels or bed and breakfasts. Groundbreaking research from Shelter, published earlier this year, showed how this is rarely temporary, and is often cramped, damp and in disrepair.

We found that:

  • four in ten people in temporary accommodation say they have experienced problems with damp, mould or condensation
  • more than one in three people have had issues with insect or animal infestations and one in five have experienced a dangerous hazard, like faulty electrics
  • families regularly must share just one or two rooms – and one in three parents of school-age children say their children do not have a bed of their own

The research also showed how homelessness can cause major disruption to children’s lives. Many have to move from a school where they feel settled and have friends. Almost half of families with school-age children say that have had to move their child to a different school – of these families, one in five have had to move school multiple times.

Families can be accommodated many miles from their former home, leading to long difficult journeys, waits for new school places and frequent moves. This can mean that many children miss out on learning time. Over half of school-aged children had missed days of school – of which one in three had missed more than a month due to being homeless in temporary accommodation.

Today’s research shows the impact this is having in classrooms

Our new research dives even deeper into the heartbreaking effects of the housing emergency on children and their wider lives. Of the teachers who have worked with children experiencing homelessness in the last year, our research found that:

  • 91% say children are coming to school tired as a result of their housing situation, as sharing beds and being stuck in overcrowded accommodation mean it is difficult to sleep
  • 83% say children have not been able to complete their homework because of a lack of space in their accommodation
  • 87% say that children have come to school hungry. Temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels often have only basic or no kitchen facilities at all
  • 91% say that children’s living situation had negatively affected the mental health of children at their school. And 81% reported it having a negative impact on physical health

How did we get here? For years, successive governments have failed to act on the ongoing and deepening housing emergency by failing to invest in enough social homes. The only alternative available to families is to rent privately. But rents for family homes have skyrocketed and have outpaced incomes, shutting off all options for many people.

So, what can you do to end the housing emergency?

The record number of children experiencing homelessness is not inevitable. It signifies a failure of government housing policy. We can change this.

Your help could be the most important gift you give this Christmas. Donate, if you can, to our urgent appeal. The only way to end the housing emergency for good is if we all stand together to campaign for investment in social homes. But, in the meantime, we want to be there to support the thousands of people going through homelessness, including families whose children are at risk in damaging temporary accommodation. Because no one should go through homelessness alone, and it’s terrifying to do so as a parent.

Join us in putting pressure on the government to urgently invest in a new generation of social homes which are genuinely affordable and permanent. Please sign our open letter calling on all party leaders to make this investment, so no child or teenager has to hope for a home.