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To be upset by this teacher's comment about children receiving free school dinners?

(155 Posts)
cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:03:36

I have recently split up with my DP. We have 3 DC's 2 of which are at school. As I have been a SAHM since having children I have had to claim benefits until I can get sorted. I found out this week that my school age children will be receiving free school meals as of Monday.
I went for coffee at a good friend's this morning after the school run and another of her friends popped round whilst I was there. She's a part time teacher at a primary school ( not DC's school) and my friend was asking how work was etc. During the course of the conversation while discussing her work load she mentioned that as there was only 9 free school meal children at ther school now (v. small school) then her workload wasn't as great as these types of kids needed more imput hmm. My friend asked her to clarify and she said well they're more time consuming and needed more attention. To me she was implying that children in receipt of free school meals obviously have social problems within the family and maybe behavioural issues??
I'm upset to say the least.

kimorama Wed 06-Feb-13 13:55:11

Pure well said. 10 out of ten

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 06-Feb-13 13:57:21

ibizagirl not sure how offering your child a place on an outdoors adventure hol equates to people thinking you child is thick and dirty

ThingummyBob Wed 06-Feb-13 13:58:11

Ibizagirl that is the exact opposite of what I have found to be true.

Worra, I only help out at ds's school and I know who is on fsm. Although I would always be discrete and do not help in ds's class. The FSM children are indicated on both the reading record list and the school register.

I'd say its also true that the children in receipt of fsm are also the group most likely to miss school more often.

AmberLeaf Wed 06-Feb-13 13:58:30

Try not to take her comment to heart, don't let it make you feel bad about yourself.

Teachers like her are in the minority.

Kewcumber Wed 06-Feb-13 13:59:36

Cafe - schools love children like yours (and mine!) FSM but no additional support needs and above average academically so they apply the mo ey to other children who do need it. You can officially feel smug in front of your friend rather than defensive

FreckledLeopard Wed 06-Feb-13 14:00:48

DD used to have free school meals yet I make the same generalisations as your teacher friend. I have an Oxbridge degree, an MSc and am resolutely middle class. I am, though, a lone parent. As such, whilst I was doing my MSc and law conversion, I was entitled to a wealth of benfits - housing, tax credits and free school meals, which I took.

I'm now a qualified solicitor and DD is at an independent school. I'm fairly sure she isn't the type that those that make generalisations in terms of FSM refer to. There aren't however, statistics that will break down why a child is entitled to FSM, other than household income. So, children of 'stable', 'middle-class', 'aspirational' families who have a temporary blip will be in the same lot of data as those whose parents have never worked, have chaotic family lives and signficant problems at home.

ThingummyBob Wed 06-Feb-13 14:01:20

Ibizagirl your dd is one pupil, one does not a statistic make wink

DewDr0p Wed 06-Feb-13 14:02:09

Just to add Ofsted is all over this like a rash atm. Schools have to absolutely justify what they are spending the pupil premium on by showing that FSM pupils make at least as good progress as their non-FSM counterparts.

I agree that it's a rather crude index of deprivation but it is the one that schools have to work with under the current framework. And if you consider what that Save the Children report says - that only 1/3 of FSM children will succeed at each key stage of school - then there are clearly a large number of FSM children who do need extra support.

city1984 Wed 06-Feb-13 14:07:26

Such a sad attitude. I grew up in a working poor family. I remember getting free school meals. However, I was a perfect pupil who went on to get 2 reasonable a levels. The rest of the family were the same all achieving according to their natural ability and never getting into trouble at school. This attitude really annoys me.

SamSmalaidh Wed 06-Feb-13 14:08:04

I am surprised that so many people seem upset by this, and think the teacher is awful!

Poverty is a social problem. Not all children who qualify for FSM will have problems other than poverty, but many do, and so it is understandable that a greater proportion of the teacher's time will go on supporting these children.

cory Wed 06-Feb-13 14:19:19

The problem is with teachers who cannot distinguish between the general and the specific.

The government are quite right in basing their support on statistics, that is the general picture; there is nothing else they can do.

But a teacher needs to be aware that any one pupil, or any one group of pupils, need not represent a statistically correct picture. Otherwise she could end up seriously damaging a pupil's chances through preconceived ideas.

One of the secondaries we visited when ds was due to transfer is in a deprived area and the school generally has very low overall GCSE results. When we went round the school on open evening, I was horrified to hear that all the teachers we spoke to addressed ds as if they already knew that he would not be interested in academic subjects, in higher education or even in doing well at school. They didn't know him, he hadn't opened his mouth; they were just extrapolating. But I can imagine the disastrous effect on an easily led teenage boy in spending his formative years in an environment where the responsible adults have already decided he is likely to underachieve before he's even started.

Statistically, those teachers were right; the results are awful and no doubt it is largely due to the intake. But in treating a real living child as if he were some kind of cross section of their statistics is quite simply wrong.

Antipag Wed 06-Feb-13 14:19:51

I don't know if it is the teacher's position so much that upsets me, more the insensitivity of voicing that position in front of the OP, a person she did not know. She had no way of knowing what position your family were in and if i were in her position I would certainly not have voiced my thoughts in the way in which she did.

That said, please don't take it personally, FSM is no reflection on YOUR child's ability, you know that and that is really all that matters x

Squeakygate Wed 06-Feb-13 14:24:52

My dc's school are always sending letters out encouraging parents to apply for FSM, obviously due to pupil premium they receive.
Not sure how they spend the extra though

FelicityWasCold Wed 06-Feb-13 14:31:11

One of the secondaries we visited when ds was due to transfer is in a deprived area and the school generally has very low overall GCSE results. When we went round the school on open evening, I was horrified to hear that all the teachers we spoke to addressed ds as if they already knew that he would not be interested in academic subjects, in higher education or even in doing well at school. They didn't know him, he hadn't opened his mouth; they were just extrapolating

You were horrified that teachers were talking to your son as if it was a given he would want to be successful? You were horrified!? That they had high expectations of him. hmm

Back to the OP:

Lets not forget that this teacher was a) not at work, b) making one informal comment to a friend. I think it's a bit of a stretch to assume that she routinely rights off entire sections of her classes based on this information alone.

cory Wed 06-Feb-13 14:34:05

Did you miss the "not" in the sentence you just quoted, Felicity? Here it is again:

I was horrified to hear that all the teachers we spoke to addressed ds as if they already knew that he would not be interested in academic subjects, in higher education or even in doing well at school.

Jamillalliamilli Wed 06-Feb-13 14:34:34

Felicity you need to re read what Cory actually said.

Jamillalliamilli Wed 06-Feb-13 14:34:58

sorry cross posted.

Skittish Wed 06-Feb-13 14:36:05

Ibizagirl - you can afford a holiday in Ibiza and yet receive free school meals?

And who says benefits aren't cushy? shock

Jamillalliamilli Wed 06-Feb-13 14:36:40

Cory, youngest ds went to a school like that. Decisions made before he walked through the door. Told not to be elitist for challenging them and made to claim FSM even though ds was packed lunches. Fair enough to give them funding.

But later told the FSM status along with Fischer Trust stuff meant if he learnt nothing more after yr 7 he’d have exceeded expectations anyway so why was I complaining about his English book going unmarked for a whole year. Prehaps his FSM status should have entitled him to have a better idea of how he was doing?

the results are awful and no doubt it is largely due to the intake. Not so sure from what I’ve seen there can be an unholy alliance between ‘intake’ and staff.

cory Wed 06-Feb-13 14:42:11

"Not so sure from what I’ve seen there can be an unholy alliance between ‘intake’ and staff. "

That is putting it beautifully! Spot on. That's exactly how I felt.

FelicityWasCold Wed 06-Feb-13 14:44:42

blush apologies misread. Take it back!

But my comments to the OP still stand.

goldenlula Wed 06-Feb-13 14:55:58

The school my children attend and the school I worked at have regularly asked parents whose children may be entitled to fsm to fill in the forms to claim them, even if they do not intend to use them as it helps with the funding of the whole school.

ReallyTired Wed 06-Feb-13 15:02:17

Its understand why the OP is feeling hurt. Clearly this teacher has the tact of a ten ton lorry. Lots of children in receipt of free school dinners are lovely. There is a difference between having financial problems and social problems.

Giving extra funding to children who are entitled to free school dinners is nothing to with parenting. It is to make sure that children from low income backgrounds do not miss out. Before the pupil premium schools in deprived areas could not have decent school outings. There is no doult the pupil premium has allowed my son's school to be more adventurous.

Lots of parents spend a brief period on benefits. Our family was on benefits for 3 months and frankly its an experience I never want to repeat. It is horrible having to watch the pennies and not being able to buy nice things for your kids. It is not surprising that over long period of time children who are on free school dinners are at a disadvantage.

I hope OP gets back on her feet soon as being on benefits is an awful situation to be in.

JoanByers Wed 06-Feb-13 15:08:27

Statistically FSM perform worse academically and therefore need more attention.

In England 62.0% of non-FSM children get 5 good GCSEs, but only 34.6% of FSM children.

Therefore FSM children are a lot of work.

Statistically also despite the FSM premium, schools with few FSM children inevitably perform well, while those with many FSMs usually perform badly.

However it sounds like the teacher could have used more tactful language.

IsabelleRinging Wed 06-Feb-13 15:09:58

Children on FSMs don't receive the money personally, the school does. I guess they use it as they see fit raise the attainment of ALL children, not target resources at specific individuals if it is not rquired.

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