free school meals and admissions

(34 Posts)
TheFlumpFlan Sun 04-May-14 07:13:18

Just saw this in the news, and idea that those on fsm will jump to the front of school admissions queues as lac do now. The idea is that it cancels out the problem of tiny wealth catchments with poorer families priced out of the best schools. Personally my bet is that the root reason is the fear that with free schools meals for all coming in the fear is that many families who are entitled will no register for fsm, and as schools receive pupil premium funding for each child on fsm this could hugely impact on school budgets in many areas.

I see the obvious bonus of reducing the achievement gap potentially, but I'm thinking about pitfalls. What are your thoughts? Will it create schools of extremes? Is it a perverse disincentive for families who are struggling? I'm not sure it's the best measure, the bar for fsm is so low it won't catch most it would be benefit, at least in London. Is it so obvious it'll lead to identification and resentment? Would working tax credits, or housing benefit or something else meet needs better? Lottery admissions?

I don't have an answer, it's just pipped my interest. (If you're wondering mine aren't entitled, older ones were)

Sirzy Sun 04-May-14 07:17:13

It's rediculous and something that can change throughout a child's time in education so realistically they are judging on the family position during one small period of the child's childhood.

RuddyDuck Sun 04-May-14 07:40:51

I can't see this working in rural areas. Our catchment secondary is rated "outstanding" and is quite sought after. However, its catchment area is large (approx 3-7 miles in every direction). Everyone in catchment gets in, and transport is provided for every child who lives more than 3 miles away.

If the school prioritised children who are entitled to FSM, so that people out of catchment got a place, they wouldn't be able to get there because of transport costs or lack of transport, depending on which village they lived in. The local bus is £3.60 per day which would presumably put it out of the reach of families claiming FSM.
Obviously it would be different in an urban area.

BoomBoomsCousin Sun 04-May-14 07:48:24

You might be partially right about the reason partially being free lunches for everyone. I assumed they'd use the ever six eligibility they use for school's extra funding, so the snapshot issue wouldn't really be a problem.
I don't know if it will really help with the whole sink school thing. It will help parents who are in poor school areas because of their finances but have the mental and educational resources of their own to envision a better educational scenario for their children and support them. But they aren't what drives school standards down in the poor schools people want to stay out of. The parents with few financial resources who don't have the wherewithal, for whatever reason, to look for, evaluate, apply for and get their child to a "better" school will be even more ghettoized.

In some ways this just lets "better" schools cream off the most likely to succeed children from poorer families.

PromiscuityofSandwiches Sun 04-May-14 07:50:57

Do you have a link? The only news items I have seen about FSM admissions priorities are about grammar schools.

nennypops Sun 04-May-14 08:03:01

RuddyDuck, if people live more than two miles away (or three miles for older children) they'd be entitled to school transport anyway.

Sirzy Sun 04-May-14 08:12:26

Only if they are more than that distance from the closest school with spaces. So if parents choose to send them further away they wouldn't get the help

Retropear Sun 04-May-14 08:18:01

Ludicrous so not only are those kids just above fsm and in the middle going to lose out to those who can afford a £400 k house but also to those on fsm too.

Not seeing a whole lot of fairness.

It's also not a great incentive for those unfortunate enough to be in that bracket to pull themselves out of it.

TheFlumpFlan Sun 04-May-14 08:25:00

I can't paste on my kindle but on bbc there is an article about summer holidays, it's a the bottom of that. I'd be grateful to anyone posting it.

My next thought is that academies control their admissions and won't be subject to this. In my city more schools are academies than not, there is already a case where state schools are taking the extra pupils disruptive children etc so it'll widen the gap again. Most the highest achieving schools local to me are academies.

TheFlumpFlan Sun 04-May-14 08:27:10
racmun Sun 04-May-14 08:34:04

The only fair change to the state school admissions would be to abolish faith schools and have a lottery system.

Choosing FSM children over others isn't fair on the children who are just above the threshold but still very poor, I can also see it will end up costing a lot if transport is going to be included in the deal.

I know it's not always the case but generally why are the bad schools in the poor areas? Is it that the children don't get as much help at home (in which case why?) so the schools attainment is lower overall. I often wonder things like this but it can't be that straight forward surely

Dramatic Sun 04-May-14 08:39:18

My children are/will be entitled to fsm and even I can see that this is unfair and won't work. I'm not sure if admissions work like this all over the country but I think schools round here do it pretty well; children in care, children with special needs, siblings and then distance. They should just leave it at that.

TheFlumpFlan Sun 04-May-14 08:44:24

I don't think it necessarily true bad schools are in poor areas, some of our best are in deprived areas, but it's often the case the wealthy push up achievement at certain schools with their ability to tutor/ give enrichment and often their drive for private secondary schools which turns the scholarship into a state prep.

Andrewofgg Sun 04-May-14 09:03:02

A lottery system is all very well if you want to force children to face longer journeys and be at school with others too far from home for invitations to be realistic.

At the minimum there must be absolute priority for siblings to ease the school run.

meditrina Sun 04-May-14 09:06:00
meditrina Sun 04-May-14 09:10:15

Unless there's been a subsequent announcement, it refers to secondary schools (which often don't have a sibling priority anyhow), as a tiebreak criterion (rather than distance for equally 'qualified' children, and for all those who attracted Pupil Premium at primary (so not just FSM, but also LAC and former LAC and all Forces children).

WooWooOwl Sun 04-May-14 09:18:20

It's a completely ridiculous suggestion.

Thinking of the lengths people go to already to get ther children into their preferred school, going to church when they don't believe, renting properties in catchment for a couple of years and then moving, moving in with grandparents who have the right address, it will just give motivated parents another hoop to jump through.

It would create a massive disincentive to parents who want to go back to work before their children start school, or who want to improve their jobs.

No child is more deserving of a particular school than another. Siblings and distance as admissions criteria have their drawbacks, but they are as good as it's going to get.

TheFlumpFlan Sun 04-May-14 09:22:06

They seem a little different to me, the grammar school articles reading them appear to be a head-driven idea which certain schools are leading. This article both refers to "any school" and "catchment" areas, which along with the aim states appears to imply we're talking primary admissions. It possibly a different point on the same "education manifesto" from the naht.

RuddyDuck Sun 04-May-14 10:05:26

nenny, in this area the transport is only free if you attend your catchment school. We live 5 miles from our catchment school, so our dc get free transport. We wouldn't get free transoort if we had chosen to send dc to a different school.

The point I was making was that, in rural areas, everyone in catchment tends to get into their catchment school, so Fsm criteria wouldn't make a difference. For out-of-catchment applicants it would, but where we live, they wouldn't qualify for transport as they are out-of-catchment. Therefore getting priority wouldn't help them as they might get a place but no means to get there. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I didn't realise that in other areas of the country you could get free transport if you attend a non catchment school, that's never been the case anywhere we've lived.

tiggytape Sun 04-May-14 10:11:58

This is not quite correct
The 2012 admissions code gives admission authorities the choice of who gets priority.

By law they can choose:
- children who meet the FSM criteria (and this includes children of service personnel)
- siblings of former pupils who have left the school
- children of staff working at the school

as well as the usual siblings, distance, fair banding methods of allocation.

As a result some schools with particular intakes are choosing to give full or limited priority to children in the FSM bracket. This is nothing like what happens with LAC and statemented children where their priority is not a choice but is a requirement on practically all schools.

Retropear Sun 04-May-14 10:16:32

Ruddy you're right.In our area there are several to choose from,you only get a free bus if you go to your catchment school which actually puts many non struggling families off from going out of catchment of applying and the 11+. It's not cheap either if you have several kids.Many middle income families don't have extra cash floating around to go on bus fares or the hassle.

I'm guessing they'll offer free buses too to fsm.

Retropear Sun 04-May-14 10:17:40

It would be pointless otherwise.

meditrina Sun 04-May-14 10:19:24

The grammar schools are using exactly the criteria that Tiggy has laid out. They are choosing to use 'PP by distance' followed by 'distance' as tie breakers.

It is for the admissions authority (school if VA or academy, LEA for others) to set out entrance criteria, and to consult if they propose changes.

Hoppinggreen Sun 04-May-14 10:20:45

Me and DH Are self employed so technically we can show a really small income on paper. We could qualify for all sorts of things if we wanted to play the system ( we don't) so could get free school meals and if this IS true go to the from of the admissions queue.
So if we could abuse the system I'm sure other people could too!!

WooWooOwl Sun 04-May-14 11:40:33

Yep, I could arrange my finances to show a really low income too, and I would if it were the difference between my children going to a crap school with a difficult intake and a great school with a motivated intake.

I expect loads of families could really, often all it would take would be for the earning or highest earning partner to move out fir a while and have one parent claim as a single person.

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