SCHOOL support staff across Scotland are paying for pupils' food and clothing out of pocket, even though many are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

Unison said today that a survey of over 3000 school workers revealed that staff – including teaching assistants, caterers and cleaners – are buying food, clothes and stationery for their hard-up pupils.

Two-fifths of school workers, or some 41%, had helped with food or packed lunches.

Meanwhile, a third had helped with uniform costs and one in five had helped with books and stationery.

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This help comes as all but 3% of the school employees surveyed say they fear their pay isn't enough to cover their own spiralling bills and other household costs, with 15% using food banks in the past year and nearly half saying they have had to borrow money to stay afloat.

Unison says many school workers are considering either finding a second job or leaving the field entirely.

Over a quarter of those surveyed have taken on an extra job to stay afloat, with over two fifths – some 44% – have considered leaving the field to find better paid work, with many eyeing jobs in administration, hospitality and retail.

The union has been carrying out strikes at Scottish schools since September, with education staff seeking an uplift in pay amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Unison Scotland’s education issues group chair Lorraine Thompson said: “Even though school staff in Scotland are not well-off themselves, they’re still doing what they can for their pupils.

"Their generosity and dedication are to be applauded, but it is truly shocking that employees struggling to make ends meet are having to bail out less fortunate families.

“This can’t continue. The report identifies thousands of staff who are being attracted to jobs in retail and hospitality, with less responsibility and better pay. 

“But support staff are vital to the smooth running of schools and the experiences of pupils. Their pay should better reflect the invaluable support they provide.”