Ofsted have published a report - The Pupil Premium: How schools are using the pupil premium funding to raise achievement for disadvantaged pupils - which calls on schools to do more to encourage children in poverty to take up free school meals.
Elaine Hindal, Director of Advocacy and Communications at The Children’s Society, commented:
'It’s great that Ofsted have highlighted how important free school meals are for children living in poverty, as well as the barriers that stop children taking them up.
'Free school meals don’t just provide children with a healthy and nutritional meal, but claiming them also means a child in poverty can get help with things like paying for school trips and new uniforms, as well as having an effect on the pupil premium.
Schools can do more
'We know from our own research that there half a million children living in poverty who are eligible for free school meals but are not claiming them. Our Fair and Square campaign found a major reason is that both parents and young people are worried about stigma and bullying. Schools can do more by making sure children aren’t singled out and victimised, for example by having cashless system in canteens.
'But it is also important to remember the 700,000 children in England who are living in poverty but are not even eligible, because their parents are in work. The introduction of Universal Credit provides a valuable opportunity to address this, and ensure working families living in poverty don’t miss out.'
The Children’s Society are petitioning the government to extend the free school meals eligibility to all children in poverty, and currently have just under 20,000 signatures.
For more information, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422, 07810487988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors
- For more information on the Ofsted report on pupil premiums see the Ofsted website.
- Learn more about our Fair and Square campaign to ensure all children in poverty receive a free school meal.
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.