Report Overview

The cost of living crisis is increasingly impacting families, with prices rising and parents struggling to make their incomes stretch. But how is this affecting young people and their educations? 

This new polling, conducted by Teacher Tapp for the Sutton Trust, examines the issues that teachers are seeing their pupils face linked to living costs this autumn term.  

The polling looks at how the crisis is directly affecting students, with teachers reporting that more are coming to school hungry or without adequate winter clothing. It also looks at how this is affecting their educational experience. The findings reveal clear signs that the cost of living is increasingly affecting young people’s education in a range of areas.   


The proportion of state school teachers who are seeing growing numbers of children coming to school hungry.


The proportion of teachers in state schools who think the attainment gap would increase at their school.


The number of state school teachers likely to leave the profession in the next year due to pay.

Key Findings

The cost of living crisis

  • Teachers have seen an increase in the number of their pupils facing several different serious issues this autumn term. In state schools, 74% of teachers have seen an increase in pupils unable to concentrate or tired in class, 67% have more students with behaviour issues, and 54% have seen an increase in those coming into school without adequate winter clothing like a coat. 38% of teachers reported an increase in children coming into school hungry, with 17% saying there was an increase in families asking to be referred to foodbanks.
  • These issues are more common in schools with the most disadvantaged intakes, with 79% of teachers reporting an increase in pupils unable to concentrate vs 71% in state schools with the most affluent intakes. Teachers seeing an increase in students with behaviour issues was also more common in more deprived schools (72% vs 62%), as was seeing an increase in those without adequate winter clothing (65% vs 40%). Teachers in more deprived schools were also much more likely to report an increase in those coming into school hungry (56% vs 22%), and in families asking to be referred to a foodbank (27% vs 8%).
  • Over half (52%) of senior leaders in state funded schools reported the number of children ineligible for free school meals unable to afford lunch had increased this autumn, with 11% saying there had been a large increase. The figure saying there had been an increase was higher in schools with the most deprived intakes, at 59%, compared to 44% in state schools with more affluent pupils and just 5% in private schools. State secondary school senior leaders were 14 percentage points more likely to report an increase (61%) compared to those working at primary schools (47%).

Impact of the crisis on learning

  • In state schools, 38% of teachers said a third or more of their class were living in families facing considerable financial pressures which they felt are impacting on the children’s ability to succeed in school. In private schools, this figure was just 5%. By area, the proportion of teachers reporting at least a third of their class are struggling was highest in Yorkshire and the North East, and in the North West, both at 43%, compared to just 28% in the South West and 27% in the South East.
  • In state schools, 67% of teachers thought the cost of living crisis and associated impact on pupils would increase the attainment gap at their school, with 18% saying there would be a substantial increase. This figure was 72% in the most deprived state schools, compared to 60% in those with better-off intakes.

Teachers and the cost of living

  • Just under 1 in 10 (9%) of state school teachers say they are likely to leave the profession within the next year for reasons related to their pay, equivalent to 47,300 teachers. 2% say it is very likely that they will be leaving
  • Access to free school meals should be expanded to fully capture those in need, by making them available to all families on Universal Credit.
  • While it is welcome that benefits are now due to increase with inflation, this is currently not due to come into force until April. Today’s polling shows the need for more urgent financial support for families.