Kids in the UK receive no better treatment than what orphan Oliver Twist endured in Charles Dickens's novel, a teacher has claimed.
Lesley Ward alleged students attended school unable to dress themselves, use cutlery or even use the toilet, mirroring the plight of Twist, the child protagonist born into a life of poverty and misfortune in a workhouse.
The president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said parents were less likely to pay attention to children's education due to the strain of living in poor conditions.
"That's shocking isn't it?" the Daily Star quoted her as saying.
"You go out to work, perhaps two or even three part-time jobs, and you are still living below the poverty line. Life mirroring the times of Dickens.
"Shared poverty gives rise to shared attitudes, which make learning difficult. Attitudes like: 'Why should he stay at school? I didn't and I manage'," she added.