Kate Livingstone: Life is not fair for some youngsters

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who has thought that teachers have quite a cushy number mainly given the amount of holidays they have.

Over the years and particularly when my children were younger and as I struggled to juggle childcare, there was always a tiny bit of resentment of friends who didn’t have to worry about getting their youngsters looked after during the long breaks from the classroom.

How lucky for those who were teachers and when their children packed up their desks at the end of June so did they.

While I was getting my two out of bed and rushing to get them dressed, fed and dropped off at their grandparents or the childminder, their friends were able to stay cosy in bed because mum was on holiday too.

But over the years I’ve seen their job change. Friends who said they used to love spending time with eager young minds and helping them to discover a world of knowledge now complain about the amount of paperwork they are expected to do.

Yes that’s true for lots of us, but other things that they have to deal with are not so palatable.

It all started atone of our regular catch ups. One friend, a teacher with over 30 years experience, was talking about the different home backgrounds her little pupils came from.

“You wouldn’t believe that they come from the same community,” she said. “Some get dropped off in the morning by mum in the latest 4x4. They’ve also got a different jacket for every day, yet other poor we souls have holes in their shoes.”

“You are kidding us,” I questioned. “Surely not in 2018?”

What she then told us made me realise that I must be living a blinkered life.

Stories about children coming to school without breakfast, some in the same clothes they had worn the day before with neither them or their clothing having seen soap and water.

“I’m far from the only teacher who gives pupils food to make sure that they have something in their stomachs every day,” she admitted.

“And then there are the ones whose parents are working but things are so tight that you know they are feeding the children and they are going without themselves.

These comments and more definitely left the rest of us with food for thought.

We live in such an unequal world and sadly it’s not only on the other side of the globe but on our doorstep.

Surely tackling such inequalities must be a priority for all those in positions of power.