The EIS has highlighted its concerns over the severe impact of poverty on many young people during the festive period.

The loss of access to free school meals while schools are closed can be a significant difficulty for many families. Social pressure to engage in festive activities and to give gifts can also lead to young people being disadvantaged and to feel excluded if they cannot afford to join in.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "Christmas can often be a very expensive time for families, particularly for those families trying their best to get by on low incomes. The challenge of 'holiday hunger' is a serious and growing problem, which an increasing number of local authorities are now taking steps to try to address."

"The loss of free school meals for their children during the holiday period can place an additional financial burden on many families, or leave children going hungry. We live in a wealthy country, so it is disgraceful that families continue to be forced to access food-banks to feed their children during the holiday period."

Mr Flanagan continued, "The Christmas period can also increase the digital divide that exists, with many young people receiving technology gifts such as smartphones which are out of financial reach to many of their peers."

"It is important that we remain cognisant of this type of tech poverty, particularly when many schools are making greater use of this technology and encouraging young people to make use of their devices to support learning both at school and in the home."

The EIS has previously produced a pack for schools providing advice for teachers on practical steps they may wish to take when they become aware of issues related to the impact of socio-economic deprivation on the experiences of pupils in school.