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'A lot of teachers feel they have to do it': Retired teacher says he often bought paper, pencils and printer ink for classes

A former teacher from Lowestoft says he regularly bought stationery and other supplies for his pupils - as did many colleagues. It comes as a NASUWT survey found many teachers are dipping into their own pockets to buy supplies. Picture:  Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

A former teacher from Lowestoft says he regularly bought stationery and other supplies for his pupils - as did many colleagues. It comes as a NASUWT survey found many teachers are dipping into their own pockets to buy supplies. Picture: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Teachers paying for classroom supplies such as notebooks, paper and printer ink out of their own pocket has been commonplace for years, a former Suffolk teacher has claimed.

Chris Thomas, from Lowestoft, estimates he spent up to £200 a year on essentials while teaching in local middle and primary schools.

It comes as a survey of more than 4,300 teachers by the NASUWT union found more than one in five were buying lesson resources with their own money at least once a week.

Mr Thomas, 70, retired from teaching five years ago after almost three decades in the profession – and while he misses it, he said the efforts teachers go to are still often under-appreciated by decision-makers.

“You have to buy things like notebooks, pencils and rubbers. You'd spend hours at home doing your lesson plans then have to buy your own paper and inks to print them at school, and they are not cheap,” he said.

“I knew a primary school teacher who was teaching cooking and she had to go and buy all the ingredients.

“And despite this we still get undervalued by the government and people who say that teachers don't work hard.

“A lot of teachers feel they have to do it. These little things all add up but the children need that experience, they need that input and if the teachers don't put it in they are not going to get it. That is the way it has been for years and I don't think it is going to change.”

The NASUWT survey, conducted ahead of the union's annual conference this weekend, found the most common items purchased were paper or stationery, arts and crafts materials and textbooks or reading books.

Almost two thirds (63pc) of those questioned said the amount of items they are buying has increased in the last three years.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “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.”

Minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi said: “We recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers make the most of every pound on non-staff costs.”

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