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School is washing pupils’ clothes says primary headteacher

A primary school claims it has to wash pupils’ dirty clothes because their families can’t afford to.

Headmistress Siobhan Collingwood, who was previously accused of trying to unseat a Tory MP, yesterday said some parents were so deprived they had passed out from hunger in the hallways.

Mrs Collingwood – nicknamed Red Siobhan – said that, ‘pretty much daily’, children at Morecambe Bay Primary School, Lancashire, had to use its laundry room ‘if the family haven’t got a washing machine working at home, or if they’ve not got enough money to pay for the meter’.

Headteacher of Morecambe Bay Primary Schhol Siobhan Collingwood: She claims that the school has helped impoverished students do their laundry on school property, and has taken parents to food banks

On a local ITV report on poverty, she said: ‘We have had parents pass out in the school hall through doing without meals.

‘We’ve helped them to join in with the breakfasts that are available within school. We’ve taken them as well to food banks.’

Morecambe Bay Primary donates presents and food for pupils if they would otherwise miss out on Christmas Day.

Mrs Collingwood, 50, said one pupil had confessed he had spent Christmas caring for his alcoholic grandmother while his mother slept between night shifts.

In June, Mrs Collingwood, who is a member of the National Union of Teachers, was accused by Conservative MP David Morris of trying to oust him after she used her Twitter account to call Tory voters ‘sociopaths’.

She even wrote a parody of Bob Dylan’s song Subterranean Homesick Blues criticising the Government’s education policies. At the time, Mr Morris branded her ‘political agenda’ an ‘abuse of trust’.

Dr Andy Knox, a GP at Ash Trees Surgery in nearby Carnforth, said rickets – where children’s bones do not form properly due to vitamin and calcium deficiencies – is making a comeback.

‘It was quite common back in Victorian times,’ he told the news report. ‘We wouldn’t expect to see this in a developing nation.’

West End Primary School in Morecambe said it sometimes gave coats and shoes to pupils whose parents could not provide them.

Meanwhile, Morecambe’s food bank said it had served 152 children in September. According to the End Child Poverty group, 5,087 children in Morecambe – about one in four – live in poverty.

Mr Morris said: ‘These claims always seem to emanate from the same primary schools and Ash Trees Surgery in Carnforth. I have referred these claims in the report to social services and the claims regarding rickets to the Department of Health. It is vital that the extent of these claims is established by officials and that social services are fully aware of all of the families affected by the claims made in this documentary as it is their job to protect all children.’

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of children whose families are mired in poverty and benefits dependency has actually dropped by more than 500,000 in only six years.

The Government also claims that, since 2010, the number in absolute poverty has fallen by more than half a million.