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.

Bogeyface Wed 06-Feb-13 13:08:14

She sounds a proper charmer. My children are currently on FSM because my H got made redundant and I was a SAHM, by her logic my DC have gone from being no trouble to needing more time and input based purely on the fact that they no longer take a packed lunch!

I would have called her on it when she said it tbh, because if no one tells her she is talking bollocks then she will continue to do so.

mademred Wed 06-Feb-13 13:10:13

OMG! Wat a bitch.i would be upset too.our children have free school meals and they do not need special help.this woman sounds too far up her own backside.

Andro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:14

She was insensitive and guilty of a blanket statement, some discretion would have been appropriate I think.

With that said, perhaps it has been her experience that children on free school meals have needed more input? It doesn't make what she said appropriate, but she may well have been extrapolating (and when you do that from a small sample you very often get it wrong - irrespective of whether the sample is children, experimental results or anything else!).

unclefluffy Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:40

I found out the other day that schools get extra money for each child taking FSMs. It's interesting because it compounds the view that kids who get FSM are 'trouble' BUT it means that teachers should be doing their best to squash those thoughts in case it puts anyone off claiming. Our school wants MORE kids to claim the FSMs they are entitled to.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:53

Free school meals seems to be a way to categorise those children receiving them and I agree that it is appallling! I am a childminder and a similar attitude exists with 2yr old children who qualify for Free Early Education.

Even some of my CM colleagues label children receiving this funding as being a "funded child" or a FEET child (Free Early Education for Two year olds - hence FEET which is a term used by our local authority).

YANBU and I am not suprised in the least that it upset you.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 06-Feb-13 13:12:00

To be fair, the number of children receiving FSMs is widely used as a measure of how disadvantaged an intake a school has. The pupil premium that is attached to FSMs exists for a reason.

That's not to say that every child who gets FSMs need extra input, but they often do, for a variety of reasons. That's why schools get extra money for them.

cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:12:11

Tbh I was so shocked I just couldn't speak. If someone who is supposed to be intelligent believes that then what hope is there. I feel crap enough having to do it anyway.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:13:06

Perhaps she was talking about the particular children she had taught?

Still a strange thing to say though.

Unless she was made to give those kids more input because they do say that kids on FSM are less likely to succeed at school than those who don't have FSM.

So perhaps that was the School's way of making sure those kids got the extra help they might have needed?

meditrina Wed 06-Feb-13 13:13:52

Deeply tactless

But %age FSM is often used as a marker of wider deprivation and there is a strong correlation with poor outcomes. That's of use at a "population" level, and targeting of resources. But of course is no indicator whatsoever for any individual child.

Hammy02 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:14:30

There may be some truth in it there being a correlation then.

cory Wed 06-Feb-13 13:14:43

It is very worrying: research has shown that self fulfilling prophecies have a lot to do with how children cope at school; a teacher with this attitude could make it a lot harder for a child to succeed.

Tweasels Wed 06-Feb-13 13:15:13

Of course all children are from different backgrounds and it is not a reliable indicator but schools get more funding for those students on FSM as in many but NOT ALL cases it does identify a social problem.

CrumbyCrumbs Wed 06-Feb-13 13:15:35

YANBU! That is a hideous comment from anyone, especially a teacher! Children should not be judged, especially by the fact they have free school meals! It sounds to me like she is associating free school meals with a "lower social class" (god I hate that term) and associating the "lower social class" with social and behavioural problems and therefore need extra help and attention which is outrageous!

Whydobabiescry Wed 06-Feb-13 13:16:48

This woman was very insensitive as there are plenty of children on fsm who do not need extra help or have social problems.

However I feel that I know where this woman was coming from as schools have to categorise their pupils by whether they get fsm or not. This is a very rough indicator of need, ie if you qualify for fsm generally you come from a lower income family and yes unfortunately the stats bear out that these children do tend to do worse at school, not be as supported and require additional resources. The school also receives additional funding for every child on fsm so the additional needs can be met.

Like I say it's a very rough indicator but other that is the measure that the government use.

Startail Wed 06-Feb-13 13:17:42

The government do this FSM are used as a very crude indicator of the social make up of a school.

There is even money called the pupil premium attached to
help this group.

It is clearly a very lazy way of identifying DCs with additional needs as divorcing parents and working family's suddenly facing redundancy, may be grateful for a short term financial hand, but their DCs are not in need of support at school.

Well, she was not a teacher at your school, and she was not talking about your children, so not sure why you are upset.

Not sure why it should hurt and upset you that schools have procedures in place to increase funding to help children who could be disadvantaged and needing more support.

However, seeing as this friend did not know you, she should have had more tact.
She might have simply thought that your family is sorted, seeing as you have been enjoying the luxury of not working and staying home with three children. I guess she just assume this did not apply to you at all.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 06-Feb-13 13:18:11

The harsh truth is most teachers would expect a group of 100 free school meals kids to be more of a handful than 100 non free school meal kids.

Obviously there will be some angels in both grouos and some complete horrors in both groups.

I think this woman was a bit insensitive though.

cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:18:26

I didn't realise that the school got extra funding?? That's interesting. My children aren't going to become problem kids because they're now having 'hot dinners' instead of sandwiches everyday.

No they are not going to be problem children because of hot dinners.

But, they may be needing help and support if they are upset that dad has left the family unit, and mum cannot afford to make them sarnies.

Whydobabiescry Wed 06-Feb-13 13:20:25

Children entitled to fsm can choose a hot meal or a packed lunch at ds's school.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:20:52

I didn't realise that the school got extra funding?? That's interesting. My children aren't going to become problem kids because they're now having 'hot dinners' instead of sandwiches everyday.

It's not just about food though is it?

Poverty brings many problems to families and kids often have to bear the brunt.

Hammy02 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:21:21

It isn't the food itself that makes the difference!

bigbluebus Wed 06-Feb-13 13:22:13

There is clearly a link between free school meals and academic achievement as someone has pointed out, extra funding is available for schools for this group and Ofsted comment on the numbers on free school meals in their reports. However, as an 'educated' person this teacher should have more sense and realise that some children who are on FSM are not from 'deprived' backgrounds, merely victims of circumstance. My son's school also regularly encourages pupils to apply for FSM even if they don't intend to eat them, because of the extra money the school gets, and in reminding parents that they might be entitled to claim, they refer to 'changing circumstances particularly in the current economic climate'

If free food was giving children behavioural problems, dont you think this would have been one of the first things this government would scrap?

TeamEdward Wed 06-Feb-13 13:23:25

A lot of schools will encourage parents to claim/register for FSM, even if they don't actually take them up (because they have packed lunch or go home). This is because of the extra funding available.
Schools are judged on the progress of children with FSM, as a cohort.

"Victims of circumstances" can also act out and need support, whether their family is in financial trouble or not.

elliejjtiny Wed 06-Feb-13 13:23:50

This kind of thing really annoys me. There is a lot of support aimed at children whose parents are on a low income/benefits (sure start, funding that kicks in when a child gets FSM, free nursery for 2 year olds) that assumes that low income/benefits = lack of parenting skills.

DH got promoted to manager before DS1 started school so we didn't qualify but if he hadn't we would have got the FSM and funding that goes with it. DH was a nursery nurse and I am a SAHM with a nursery nurse qualification. Despite the low income we were/are perfectly capable of parenting our children/listening to them read/supervising homework and all the other things that low income parents supposedly don't know how to do.

mademred Wed 06-Feb-13 13:23:58

Who says children on fsm are less likely to succeed? Are they fed worse food? They are less likely to suceed because of teachers like this and her as who is 7 didn't progress atall at school, he's very bright, but a new school and a more understanding teacher he's comming on great.nothing to do with what he eats and who pays for dh has become disabled and unable to work.

Hi I am a primary school teacher and yes, your friend's comment was incredibly insensitive and not entirely accurate - however, at my school at least, we have to gather data under the heading of "vulnerable groups" and that includes FSM children alongside other categories like Looked After Children, summer born children, working class white boys etc. It's a terrible system and can obviously provide the wrong kind of stereotype - but the reasons schools keep track of these things is so that if a child is progressing slowly in school, these things can be used as a reason to justify the lack of progress and help teachers to plan IEPs or extra input for those children.

Hope this helps explain why your friend made that comment, and I'm sure she didn't mean to offend you or anyone else with children who have FSM.

ThingummyBob Wed 06-Feb-13 13:29:20

Its quite common that children are categorized as being in receipt of FSM.

I help out with reading at a primary in yr 1. The children in receipt of fsm have to be read with on a one-to-one basis everyday. Other children are read with as time allows or once per week minimum.

Schools have received a pupil premium for children in receipt of fsm for some time now. I remember a thread where the op was annoyed that head had asked parents to notify her/him if the family were entitled to fsm even if they didn't take the lunches.
It is because schools then ensure that they receive all the additional funding avaialble to them

IsabelleRinging Wed 06-Feb-13 13:30:08

Actually, you will find that the number of children receiving free school meals is recorded and documented. Offsted use this information to report and as an indicator of the socio-economic intake of the school. A high percentage of FSMs is seen to indicate that many of the children are from poorer backgrounds and will be disadvantaged in one way or another. On a general scale children receiving FSMs are less likely to do well at school. Of course there will be lots of exceptions (you probably) but from the statistical point of view it is relevant. I may be wrong, but I think schools receive extra funding also for children receiving FSMs so it is obviously seen as an indicator of educational disadvantage.

Inertia Wed 06-Feb-13 13:30:47

It sounds like a very tactless sweeping generalisation.

However, it is true that the proportion of children entitled to FSM is used as a measure of how disadvantaged the school cohort is likely to be. (Not sure whether this is still the case, but I believe OFSTED used to look for evidence to show how the school ensured that children on FSM had suitable teaching provision - I guess things like they may not be able to provide expensive cooking ingredients for Food lessons?)

It's not the change in lunch that's the issue; more that a child entitled to FSM may be more likely to be in a household where financial problems or family break-ups cause stress, or they may not be securely housed so might not have access to internet for homework, or washing facilities for PE kit/ swim kit.

Ilovesunflowers Wed 06-Feb-13 13:30:47

The pupil premium is there to address inequalities between those on FSM and those who aren't.

To be honest those on FSM often do need additional support in my experience as a teacher. That isn't always for learning though. It is sometimes for social difficulties, sometimes for emotional support, sometimes something as simple as help affording school trips and equipment such as PE kits. Sometimes they have behaviour issues and yes this is more common in those on FSM IME (I am not claiming to know why)

In the schools I taught at there was approximitely 40% FSM. Despite all this all children are unique. There will be children on FSM who achieve 10 GCSEs at A* and there will be those who struggle if they come from difficult families. FSM does not = difficult family but it does seem more common. I don't know why.

I wouldn't be offended in any way. The teacher is right that FSM children often need more support. It doesn't mean yours will. Everyone is different.
The pupil premium is often used to fund additional TAs who help all children but with a focus on those on fsm. Ofsted actually expect teachers to know who is on fsm in the class. They then expect you to be able to say what you are doing to address their needs. This is all quite time consuming. Some schools expect detailed case studies about children on fsm so that they have them to hand for Ofsted. Mine did.

Incidently the brightest child I ever taught was on FSM.

itsallinmyhead Wed 06-Feb-13 13:33:11

I'm absolutely flabbergasted at her reasoning.

I grew up in a very poor area of Glasgow and it was a rare sight to behold if any of the children in the whole school brought a packed lunch or paid for lunch! grinshock

treaclesoda Wed 06-Feb-13 13:39:32

I can understand why, if you are in receipt of FSMs, a throwaway comment like this is really hurtful.

I suppose the reality is that the government has seen, over many years, that children who fall into this category are more likely to need extra support etc, hence the pupil premium to try to redress the balance. But that's not to say that every school thinks that every child who is entitled to fsm is going to struggle or be difficult. I also see the point people are making about self fulfilling prophecies, and children not achieving because their teachers don't expect them to, but surely a child's home life has a far greater influence on their achievement than their teacher's attitude? The teacher is teaching the whole class, and a child who is encouraged by his/her parents to work to the best of their ability should do ok, regardless of the teacher's attitude.

I would guess that encouragement from parents can, to a certain extent, overcome any perceived negativity from a teacher, because parents should be the greatest influence in their child's life. Similarly, an encouraging teacher can overcome some degree of parental disinterest (although that is no doubt more difficult). The children who really suffer are those where the parents and teachers are both uninterested in their education - those are the children who really get left behind, sadly, FSMs or no FSMs.

CashmereHoodlum Wed 06-Feb-13 13:40:38

Phoenixrose314 Please could you explain a bit about what criteria your school would use to define working class white boys? Mainly the working class bit. I am genuinely interested. School have never asked what we do for a living and I'm interested in how we would be categorised by the school.

cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:41:23

Thanks for all the replies. I understand more where she was coming from as I didnt realise about the funding aspect. Luckily I have no issues with my DC's academically especially my son who got outstanding SATS results last year. Maybe the funding would be better spent on the 'academically struggling' children rather than my son who just happens to have a 'poor' mummy.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:44:10

Here's what Save The Children have to say about it...

A pupil on free school meals is only a third as likely to succeed at every key stage at school compared to their better off classmates. The gap in development starts to emerge between children as early as age 22 months.

Ilovesunflowers Wed 06-Feb-13 13:45:57

cafebistro - in reality the money tends to benefit most of the pupils anyway, especially when money is used to find additional TAs. It just prevents schools in Mayfair (or equivalent) getting the same money as those schools in a much more disadvantaged area.

My son, who does not fit into any of the categories that PhonexRose refers to, could absolutely do with some more attention and support in school. Not because he is struggling academically, but emotionally.

Seems I must go claim some Free School Meals to get him some more support then. wink

cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:48:37

Pure - you can have my son's funding if you like wink

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:48:52

The funding that FSM's brings to the school isn't just spent on the individual child who has a free dinner.

As sunflowers points out, the children as a whole will benefit.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:50:18

Basically it all goes into the school budget and then that budget is spent in areas where the school feels it needs it most.

So all our children have been benefiting from those on FSM anyway.

ibizagirl Wed 06-Feb-13 13:50:58

Dd is entitled to free meals but takes a packed lunch. She is not a problem child! Yes, i am a single parent etc. But that is it. Although she was classed as "underprivilaged" when she started high school and was offered a trip away for a week at an outdoor adventure place free of charge "as she was on free meals etc". We declined the offer as we only went to Ibiza a couple of months ago!! You see what i am getting at? People assume because the child is on free meals that they are thick or dirty or whatever. I used to help at my dd's primary school and there were a lot of children on free meals. Funnily enough the ones who were on free meals were brighter and more well behaved than the others.

Deal cafebistro - yours get the food and mine the support! grin

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:53:03

ibizagirl how did you know who was on FSMs and who wasn't?

ThingummyBob Wed 06-Feb-13 13:53:30

Its not all about academics though cafe. The extra funding can be used however the school wish. It might pay for additional staff, IT equipment or even to subsidise trips so that every child gets to participate rather than only those who can afford it.

JakeBullet Wed 06-Feb-13 13:54:16

DS is entitled to FSM but rarely has them as he prefers packed .

I did apply for them though as the school gets extra money.

ibizagirl Wed 06-Feb-13 13:54:42

Just to add that dd has always done exceptionally well at school and has never had any extra help at all. So i don't know where this money for children on free school meals goes because dd hasn't had to use any!!

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.

ReallyTired Wed 06-Feb-13 15:13:52

My understanding is that the pupil premium is to make sure that poverty does not get in the way of teaching and learning. Schools have to aim the extra money at FSM children. If they use the money generally then the school would get into trouble with OFSTED.

Startail Wed 06-Feb-13 15:21:27

The problem in our area is that we have only a very small number of FSM, income poor, but supportive, educated families, who have cars and decent houses make up a fair percentage of these.

While long term struggling families, who just don't qualify for FSM are missed.

I live in rural commuter belt, our truly deprived families are those who struggle to find cheap rented accommodation and keep a car running in an area where the affluent majority had no need of local shops or public transport and these services have all, but gone.

I suspect that many families, who rely on low payed manual and seasonal work really struggle, despite being just above the FSM line.

It would be enormously sad if the Pupil premium was not able to help these DCs as well.

JoanByers Wed 06-Feb-13 15:24:23

"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."

This is correct

ClayDavis Wed 06-Feb-13 15:25:16

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.

No offence meant to you, ThingumyBob, but this sounds like a breach of the Data Protection Act. As a parent helper you shouldn't have access to that information about the children. If you need a list the school should provide you with one without that information on it.

I can see why it would have upset you initially.

Unfortunately when you are assessing need you often have to use rather crude markers. You could also very easily be offended by the idea that the number of children from the BME group (Black minority ethnic) will also impact expected educational outcomes.

It's not nice, but broadly speaking there will always be groups that perform less well and they NEED to be identified to get the right support, it doesnt mean they're all pre-destined to fail.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 15:30:41

I didn't know parent helpers would have access to the school register due to data protection.

I know when the school I'm a Governor at switched to electronic registers, the Head showed me how they worked and called up my own child's I could see that it shows other date, but at no time was I privvy to data about other children.

So I think ClayDavis is right.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 15:31:18


ClayDavis Wed 06-Feb-13 15:44:19

I'm not 100% sure I'm right, Worra, but I've moved from teaching to healthcare and our Trust is shit hot on data protection. Looking back I can't think of any schools I've worked in where the info about FSM would be given to a parent helper. Certainly as a student teacher I was never given that info.

GetOrf Wed 06-Feb-13 15:50:07

Why on earth would a FSM status be available to view on a reading record? I think that's pretty crap that a parent helper wpould be able to see that kind of personal information and make a judgment.

JakeBullet Wed 06-Feb-13 15:56:39

skittish... Please child is entitle to FSM too and no way can I afford a holiday in Ibiza.....o anywhere else. And to be fair the poster in question did not say she had funded it herself. My last holiday was three years ago and in-laws paid for it as a treat to us.
Believe me on benefits I can't afford holidays and don't know how anyone else can either.

BaresarkBunny Wed 06-Feb-13 16:08:54

There is also a pupil premium for forces children which benefits the school. There is probably a stigma attached to forces children but the schools do welcome the extra money.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 06-Feb-13 16:13:08

Well my sister and I both got free school meals at primary school. 13 years later we were both at Oxford so yes the other mum is being ridiculous to generalise over something like that.

lougle Wed 06-Feb-13 16:15:34

The pupil premium comes with 'strings attached' and schools must show how the funding benefits children with FSM entitlement. Realistically, that means showing that these children progress in the upper quartile, which indicates good or better progress.

Now, if you already have your FSM children making that sort of progress, you can spend the money on general resources and justify it quite well. If you have the same children making lower quartile progress, you'll need to try and raise that, so you might need more intensive reading practice, extra staff, etc.

So there is added 'box-ticking' with children on FSM, which = harder work. I guess. Not a nice way of expressing it though.

CashmereHoodlum Wed 06-Feb-13 17:00:40

Why on earth would a FSM status be available to view on a reading record? I think that's pretty crap that a parent helper would be able to see that kind of personal information and make a judgment.

Agreed. Especially if the parent helpers are particularly indiscreet, like some I have encountered.

Doesn't this breach Data Protection?

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 17:16:31

Poverty is the single most reliable indicator of academic underachievement. FSM is an indicator of poverty. Poor children leave school with significantly lower qualifications than better off ones- which is a outrage. The Pupil Premium is an attempt to redress the balance. And of course this doesn't mean that all poor children will do badly- any more than it means all better off ones will do well. Just as a group they do less well. So don't take it personally- be thankful that something is being done to try to level the playing field.

poppypebble Wed 06-Feb-13 17:17:26

I used to get FSM.

I got 9 A*s and 2 As at GCSE.

I got 4 As at A Level.

I'm a teacher. My planner has a special column for FSM. I have to account for the performance of every FSM child I teach under an agenda called 'narrowing the gaps'. I teach FSM children who will get A*s and FSM children who will get Us.

FSM status is a tool used to suggest where extra monitoring and intervention might be used, just as EAL, SEN, LAC etc are used. On its own, it means nothing. I don't teach children based on their socio-economic circumstances, I teach them based on them. The HOY might use it as a rough tool to ask form tutors to keep an eye e.g. a girl in my form never has equipment, FSM status might indicate that parents can't afford to equip her for school, so we will step in.

If anybody is interested in sweeping generalisations, it is middle-class 'my child can't do anything wrong, he's an angel' parents that make my teaching life difficult!

meditrina Wed 06-Feb-13 17:18:56

What's the stigma with Forces children? shock

There's a Pupil Premium for them because (as with FSM) there is measurable underperformance, probably caused by the numerous moves between schools. It was a group whose problems had been ignored for far too long, and who do need extra help to minimise the potential for gaps in their learning as they shift between schools.

jamdonut Wed 06-Feb-13 17:23:02

OP,your children may not become problem children....but plenty do. I work in a class-full of children who ,in one way or another, have emotional problems. This is a standard class in a standard primary. A lot of time is spent between myself and the teacher sorting out tears, anger or bad behaviour, largely due to family problems. The school has a high proportion of free school meals. But you cannot generalise and say that all children who have free school meals have "problems". I'm just pointing out that, in my experience, a lot do.
Every time we have to deal with this is time taken away from supporting learning.

Pupil Premiun money has to be spent in a way which is targeted at FSM students, but can overlap into benefitting all students.
So if, for example, there were 6 FSM students who would benefit from an after school film club, the funding would be there to ensure it could be set up, resourced and staffed. Those children would then be able to access the club with no financial barrier. It would be no issue if other students were also to benefit.
However, then would come the comparative data analysis. I think the teacher in the OP meant that there is a huge amount of extra logistical, administrative and coordination work to be done when pupil premium is involved.
Next year it is set to rise to £1200 per pupil in a secondary school, so it's no mean feat to run.

porridgewithalmondmilk Wed 06-Feb-13 18:37:00

There are always going to be exceptions to rules: sweeping generalisations aren't helpful and I'm sorry you were hurt. In a sense though I do think it's best to harden yourself to those sorts of comments - I am (going to be) a single parent, I know full well I will not be the sort of single mum the government likes to slate, so I let those comments wash over my head.

We use our pupil premiums in a way that tries to be subtle. For example, we have a lot of Kindles due to the pupil premium money - it wouldn't be sensible to let kids take these home so they stay in school but are accessible for all children not just FSM ones.

There is a link between social deprivation and lack of achievement for all sorts of reasons I won't bother to go into here, but just take heart that statistics apply to broad sections of society and not to us as individuals.

BacardiNCoke Wed 06-Feb-13 18:49:14

The thing is how the hell does she know how many children taking packed lunch are actually entitled to FSM? We've been entitled to them since DH was made redundant 6 months ago. I never claimed them until 3 weeks ago! My 2 have always taken packed lunch. Until dd2 decided 3 weeks ago she wanted to stay hot dinners and for the first time ever I can actually let her. The ironic thing is when DH was working they were both packed lunch because I couldn't fucking afford the school dinners! Now she gets them for free she can have them. DD1 still takes packed lunch as she prefers them, she is autistic and dyslexic, has the academic level of a 6 year old, so requires a hell of a lot of help and input. DD2 is NT doing very well in school and has FSM. So she's taking absolute fucking bollocks and sounds very stuck up and judgemental!

HanneHolm Wed 06-Feb-13 18:52:09

interesting but yes ALL data ofsted will look at includes FSM kids. These are often generally ( not always) kids from deprived backgrounds.

are obv sometimes kids who are fine.

its crude but i think tis an attempt to improve performance of children living in poverty

porridgewithalmondmilk Wed 06-Feb-13 18:52:47

Bacardi - OFSTED expect that teachers will know which children are entitled to FSM (regardless of what they actually eat at lunch time) as well as which children are on the SEN register and which children speak English as a second language, and so on.

I have to say that if a teacher treats a child who has some form of SEN on here the comments come back immediately that the teacher "should know this" - absolutely they should.

I have two FSM girls in my year 10 class. Both are utterly delightful and very intelligent. But, I know who they are because I have to know who they are!

HanneHolm Wed 06-Feb-13 18:52:51

Bacardi it will be on the school database

in formal lesson observations the teacher will be expected to be able to identify them and have the no on the lesson plan sheet

HanneHolm Wed 06-Feb-13 18:53:14

agree with Porridge.

ravenAK Wed 06-Feb-13 18:55:10

I don't have FSM information on my electronic markbook as a subject teacher, but I do have access to it as I organise lots of theatre visits etc & we make those parents aware that there are subsidised places available.

If the teacher was saying 'Fred gets FSM, therefore he takes up more of my time than Bill, who doesn't' then this is clearly unacceptable (not to mention ridiculous).

But a colleague of mine has just gone for (& got) a promoted post in a school with a very high proportion of students on FSM (ours is relatively low) - being relatively inexperienced she asked some of us what the advantages/disadvantages would be. This generated a completely open discussion about decent sized budgets & chance of early promotion due to rapid staff turnover, versus greater behaviour issues & lower attainment - not so great if you pine to teach A*s.

It's a tactless thing to be saying in front of a non-teacher parent, but it is true that a cohort, not individual, level, the teaching challenges are different depending on the socio-economic make up - & FSM is a crude but statistically efficient way of measuring that make up.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 06-Feb-13 18:59:04

Agreed. It is essential that teachers know the profile of all their pupils.
FSM is one of those groups and it is one OFSTED expect to be at the forefront of teachers' planning.

The teacher in the op was Insensitive but actually not wrong in anything she said.

HanneHolm Wed 06-Feb-13 19:00:49

plus there MAY be housing issues etc that affect the kids home learning.
not always are

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 19:06:48

"DD2 is NT doing very well in school and has FSM. So she's taking absolute fucking bollocks and sounds very stuck up and judgemental!

Bacardi- have you actually read the several calm, rational and sensible explanations on this thread? Or are you just here for the rant?

BacardiNCoke Wed 06-Feb-13 19:07:33

I'm just here for a rant. HTH hmm

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 19:10:35

So you haven't read the explanations from people who know what they are talking about?

bringonyourwreckingball Wed 06-Feb-13 19:12:44

I can see how a high proportion of FSM in a cohort, with the social/emotional etc issues which may often (but of course not always) be associated with the situations which lead to needing FSM (family breakdown, poverty etc) can be challenging for a school. But that is exactly why the pupil premium exists, so that targeted help can be put in place. On an individual level, kids attracting the pupil premium is a good thing as it helps to fund that targeted help. Tbh her comments say more to me about the school than anything - an attitude which sees kids with additional needs of whatever kind as a burden, rather than looking at what can be done to support them.

BacardiNCoke Wed 06-Feb-13 19:22:36

Exactly which part of my post do you have a problem with seeker? I have read the thread and their are some very good explanations on here that I agree with. But I still think the woman making the comments was being judgemental and as someone who's child has FSM I have a problem with that.

demisemiquaver Wed 06-Feb-13 19:31:28

methinks some people enjoy being offended...maybe it would be better if they stopped giving more money to the relevant schools.../just in case some nice middleclass person gets upset about possible implications?????

GiveoverGove Wed 06-Feb-13 19:37:43

There are many things that non-teaching parents would be shocked to know. In my school we know the names of every child getting free school meals and we discuss their progress as a group of children as well as individuals because that is what the government requires us to do. It is our constant quest to find the parents eligible but not claiming because we get about £4000 extra funding for each pupil entitled to FSM. it only takes 4 or 5 non-claimers before we could be down by a TA salary for example.
You might not like the hard facts but children entitled to FSM usually do less well at school than those who aren't. This is not applicable to EVERY FSM chid as many have said but across the country it has strong statistical significance.
I have repeated what many have said but felt moved to add my bit.

porridgewithalmondmilk Wed 06-Feb-13 19:40:03

I agree, Bringon - I also want to add that ANY good teacher will judge on who the child is and not their family background. I have got some children who on paper look as if they would be 'trouble' but actually are just so lovely and want to do well and really appreciate the time and help we give them and some thoroughly unpleasant children from 'supportive' homes (I don't of course say this to them!) Plus in my experience most the children I teach are nice and I really like it that I can say so sincerely. I don't look and see "Oh there is Adam on FSM" or whatever, I really don't - just as I don't think "Oh there is Eve who has autism" but I know for both and that is what I am paid to know.

I will say though that in my first year teaching I taught at a really rough school and it was awful. I didn't get to do any teaching because behaviour was so bad and I felt physically at risk so many times. I don't blame any teacher for deciding that they don't want to work in that sort of environment as it is miserable and soul-destroying. That isn't linked specifically to FSM but that school did have a very high proportion of FSM children so I can partly see what the teacher meant but I think the way she phrased it was just silly.

HappyMummyOfOne Wed 06-Feb-13 19:46:00

All governments have issued extra funding to schools based on the number of FSM. Its there to give children the best chance of suceeding at school as stats show children on FSM fare far worse than those who are not. There will be exceptions but the stats are very clear. As others have said, Ofsted also take an interest to show social aspects of the school to current and prospective parents.

I doubt she meant to offend you but was simply commenting. Concentrate on the positives, your children are being fed at school and teachers will ensure the pupil premium benefits them even if only by it funding an extra TA etc.

dayshiftdoris Wed 06-Feb-13 20:04:21

My son has challenging behaviour, ASD, causes no end of disruptions to a school and I know that we have been incredibly high maintenance but didnt qualify for FSM until 3 weeks ago grin

Nice to know he's finally in the right box wink

Seriously though... the profile of the school population is important in terms of funding and planning. FSM are merely a method of categorising children in terms of deprivation. It's not ideal but you generally find that in areas with known social deprivation have schools with high FSM children and attainment is often lower tho the pupil premium offered to school for FSM children actually makes these children valuable to the school...

raisah Wed 06-Feb-13 20:13:53

Report her to the head, she shouldn't be discussing this outside of school. Surely this is a breach of confidentiality & mention that her prejudiced comments will reflect badly on the school. That should wind the head up.

Viviennemary Wed 06-Feb-13 20:17:37

I'm not surprised you were upset by this. This person was insensitive to discuss it like this as she didn't know the circumstances of the people present. But I've heard that this percentage of children on free meals used as some sort of indicator for schools. Not nice.

Saski Wed 06-Feb-13 20:27:59

She should report the teacher for saying that there are 9 FSM kids at her school? Really?

I think this probably stings a lot to hear a comment like this, but as many have pointed out, it's just the nature of statistics. You could draw far more meaningful inferences from what a child packs in his or her lunch than whether they're eligible for a free one, but the data's not easily available.

People make clumsy comments, and they learn. It's happened to me before.

Saski Wed 06-Feb-13 20:32:02

^^ to clarify, I mean I have made really clumsy comments before, and then realized what I've done, and felt horrible. I would guess she's quite possibly figured out how insensitive it was.

IsabelleRinging Wed 06-Feb-13 20:43:00

Get real raisah, she works for a school, not the CID and she hardly signed the official secrets act. Teachers are allowed to discuss their work believe it or not, and I thought she was a friend of the OP (she did go round for a coffee) not a random person.

ravenAK Wed 06-Feb-13 20:46:07

If she'd listed the kids, then she could be done. I think the number on roll on FSM is in the public domain, eg. Ofsted reports - at the least I'm fairly sure they say whether the proportion of kids getting them is higher/lower than average.

HanneHolm Wed 06-Feb-13 20:51:55

god yes
parents - go and look at the complaints thread.
just chalk itup to experience

porridgewithalmondmilk Wed 06-Feb-13 20:52:22

OFSTED do, raven, yes

dayshiftdoris Wed 06-Feb-13 21:07:22

OFSTED definitely list numbers of FSM - it freely available information... Local councils usually publish it too - I used it for a public health job when creating a community profile and it was on the local public health observatory.

Lollydaydream Wed 06-Feb-13 21:16:40

Yes OP, it hurts when you realise you and your children are part of a statistic. And this teacher sounds fairly insensitive and resentful of children who need more help.

However I'm astonished at the lack of understanding of statistics and the judging of children who do need extra support on this thread.

Hesterton Wed 06-Feb-13 21:28:07

The majority of our students are on FSM.

Statistically, they slightly outperform those who are not on FSM. (And incidently our EAL and BME students outperform our White British/monolingual students).

We minimise everything we can around parental contributions financially but don't lower our expectations one bit in terms of other parental input to childrens' education e.g. supporting homework policy, attending parents' evening, providing the right messages at home. And we have high expectations of every one of our students; there are far too many students who have FSMs to faff around expecting them to be lower achievers, we'd be a failing school if we settled for that. An advantage of working in an area with a high level of poverty and EAL/BME amidst our bright students.

Our biggest barrier is probably WBR students with parents and grandparents who had a poor experience of education and are unconvinced of its value.

echt Wed 06-Feb-13 21:32:04

Where does the teacher come over as resentful, Lolly?

About FSM, as an indicator of educational attainment, it so strongly indicative, that the government does not apply it above, I believe 30% when comparing schools. For example, if a school's FSM stats come in at 35/40/50%, etc. the they are still compared only with schools of 30%, even though the government knows full well that the relationship is valid; the more FSM students, the lower the overall attainment of the school.

It's easy to see why HMG do this, they want to deny the reality of poverty/social circumstances, and whack the teachers at the same time.

The FSM/attainment link does not apply at the level of individuals, of course.

So do free school kids get one to one if they have behavioural problems? Because the extra help wasn't forthcoming with fsm autistic ds hmm

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 21:50:47

"So do free school kids get one to one if they have behavioural problems? Because the extra help wasn't forthcoming with fsm autistic ds "

No. Have you actually read the thread?

porridgewithalmondmilk Wed 06-Feb-13 21:56:57

Ghost - no, that wouldn't be appropriate at all, even if it was viable! Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be for the poor kids!

If a child has behavioural problems and need extra support there are various things a school can do. We have a clear and fair behavioural system - it is so fair the kids even nag us about using it! grin I can't see that one-on-one helps behavioural problems particularly, although it can of course help some children if appropriate to have continuity of staff and have the same TA with them throughout the day.

The money is used in different ways depending on what the school needs and what would benefit the children. At our school, the PP money bought a class set of Kindles for my department, I know some other departments bought in some computer programmes or Easter revision sessions or similar. This helps ALL children of course but then so it should - how embarrassing to be effectively told "you get this because you are on free school meals!"

butterflyroom Wed 06-Feb-13 21:57:30

Children on free school meals are pupil premium children. These children are then named on my performance management documents ( this is my personal experience if course). Teachers in my school receive additional time to focus on these pupil premium children. These children may be low achievers or may already be excelling. No matter as they are still pupil premium children. The head analyses data for all children in all classes half termly and these children are expected to have made additional progress as they are a focus group. We are accountable for this as money is ring faced for pupil premium input.

ihategeorgeosborne Wed 06-Feb-13 22:08:43

I remember being on free school meals for a time while at primary and secondary school. My memories of how we were treated are pretty grim to be honest. I remember at primary school, my teacher getting everyone to line up and pay for their dinners on a Friday morning. Those of us on FSM stayed in our seats, while the teacher shouted "those of you who don't pay, stay where you are". I remember begging my dad to let me pay for my dinners as I was mortified. I also remember at secondary school, having to line up to get our meal tickets every lunch time. Again, I was so mortified that I sometimes skipped lunch. There were times I probably did fit that stereo-type of being disruptive, but I realise now that this was more to do with the fact that my mother was critically ill and my father had to give up work to look after us and was really not coping. As a child, I was unable to articulate this to my teachers and was therefore labelled as a low achieving trouble maker. I proved them all wrong in the end and went to university. I do however, remember the humiliation of being on free school meals in the 1980s and wouldn't wish that on anyone.

seeker Wed 06-Feb-13 22:09:51

That's awful.Good that it doesn't happen that way nowadays.

echt Wed 06-Feb-13 22:24:29

How awful for you ihategeorgeosborne.

When I was at secondary school, there were no free meals that we knew of, we were poor and my parents were clueless about this option. I was often called out to the front of the class to say why I hadn't brought the money. I discovered later that that though grants for uniforms, free school meals, etc. were all available, the school did not publicise this.

When I was older, I applied for a grant to assist my studies, was called in to the HT and pressure applied not to do it. The money came from the LEA, not the school. I smiled and insisted. I got the money.

I imagine the school did not want to be identified with poor people. Odd for a Christian institution.

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 06-Feb-13 22:29:58

We are expected to know exactly which kids have FSM and be able to justify how Pupil Premium money is being spent to help them achieve. This means the info is now shared much more widely than ever before. I have to indicate it on seating plans for inspection, for example.

It is absolute bollocks.

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 06-Feb-13 22:36:26

I did suggest we just branded the kids on the forehead or something to make them easy to pick out..grin but Mr Gove hasn't taken me up on that one yet.

ihategeorgeosborne Wed 06-Feb-13 22:38:36

echt, In my experience, Christian institutions were the worst perpetrators of ostracising poor children. I went to a Catholic primary and they were down right sadistic to be honest. I remember sitting in a classroom with a couple of other children doing work when all the other kids were on a school trip somewhere. This was because our parents couldn't afford to pay and there was no fund to help us so they said. I remember this on numerous occasions. There were many times I'm convinced that my siblings and I were singled out for being 'poor'. It definitely happened.

thecook Wed 06-Feb-13 22:52:28

IhateGeorgeOsbourne I remember this happening to kids in my primary school in the late 70's and at comprehensive in the 80's. Disgusting.

No not read thread all the way through. Off to read it through properly seeker

pixwix Wed 06-Feb-13 23:25:08


Things were similar here. On mondays, we were let out of registration to queue for school dinner tickets. there were two queues at reception - those for children paying for dinner tickets, and those in receipt of FSM, of which I was one. That wasn't great fun.

I also remember being eligible for a free school uniform, and heading off down to a storeroom to pick stuff out... It was a very loose school uniform - blue skirt, white shirt, blue jumper, PE kit etc - but my parents literally couldn't afford it, bless em, due to circumstances etc...

It has to be said - that bit was great! I finally got warm stuff that fitted! grin And it was done out of school hours, so I didn't feel stigmatized. I came away feeling great!

I also did the not going on a school trip, because it was a choice of that or a new pair of plimsolls for PE. (£1.50) My parents were great, and encouraged me quite a lot, although most of my earnings on my paper-round, babysitting, and other ventures funded family stuff and school stuff. They funded me through 6th form, which at that time and place, was quite far sighted really!

I've just had a doh moment! That's how our school managed to afford loads of iPads! From the FSM funding.

That's always puzzled me grin well every days a school day..

CaptainNancy Wed 06-Feb-13 23:42:13

Pupil Premium doesn't just apply to those in receipt of FSM now... it applies to any pupil that has been eligible in the last 6 years- please, please if you are eligible apply- you don't have to eat the meal, it is the eligibility that is the key to the funding, if your DD/DS prefers sandwiches, they can still have sandwiches every day, but the difference £600 (soon to increase to £900 I believe) can make to a school really really adds-up.

And lolly - all children form part of statistics- DFE/LAs/Schools analyse their performance data for any kind of groups you can imagine.

CaptainNancy Wed 06-Feb-13 23:44:10

Reverse snobbery also applies btw- I was the only child in my form at secondary not to get a free dinner ticket. That was a very awkward moment the first day, when they handed them out to all but me...

ibizagirl Thu 07-Feb-13 13:07:55

Thanks for that Skittish! I am very lucky that my mum (who comes with us) or grandparents pay for any holidays for myself and dd.

JuliaScurr Thu 07-Feb-13 13:15:03

is there any financial benefit to schools that get fsm kids into uni? Russell Group uni? Any gain to the uni for taking fsm kids?

ibizagirl Thu 07-Feb-13 13:22:45

This all reminds me of dd when it was lunchtime at primary school. There was hardly any food left and she was near the back. There was one jacket potato left. Four of them had to share it with a few scrapings of coleslaw etc. When i spoke to the school about it the following morning i was told "well at least she is on free meals so you didn't have to pay for it" or something along those lines. In front of other parents too. I replied that the school receives the money so a hot meal should be properly provided. They didn't seem happy.

JoanByers Thu 07-Feb-13 15:12:45

Sometimes caterers make mistakes. I don't think it's reasonable to go marching in and complaining because they ran out of food once.

IsabelleRinging Thu 07-Feb-13 17:27:19

Joan hmm Don't think that was Ibiza's point really!

I think the school was actually quite rude in ibizagirl's case, it doesn't matter whether she payed or not, it's not the point, and if my dd was left without a decent meal because the caterers messed up I would have spoken to the school too- I don't see any mention of 'marching' or 'complaining' in that post to be honest.

HollyBerryBush Thu 07-Feb-13 17:31:23

you guys are good at googling - I have issues with out school dinners 9well more like their combinations) and I have searched high and low for an official (ie DofE style) website that stipulates that eg a 16 should have x grammes of protein, or x grammes of fat and so forth.

All I see in the canteen is ruddy chicken burgers slapped between cheap bread, with no butter/spread or salad etc. Pisses me off no end.

JoanByers Thu 07-Feb-13 18:09:14

Yes I understand the point, but if you go marching into school because of a single catering balls-up then it's not surprising if they come out with an arsey comment.

Sure if it happened regularly then it would be cause for complaint, but it's a minor issue as a one-off.

My kids get free school breakfast and lunch - it is a godsend for us as we are low income and my daughter can happily put away 3 bowls of cereal at a time. I was pretty shocked last summer when I got a request from the school guidance counselor to apply for a summer school programme for my kids - designed to help very poor kids maintain grades over the 3 months of summer holidays. It seemed a bit ridiculous to me - my kids maybe poorer than a lot of their friends, but only financially - my daughter scored top of her year on her COGATs and my son got a scholarship to a private school, so they clearly aren't academically failing just by being on free school meals. The summer school seemed to imply that the poorest kids were least likely to maintain knowledge over the summer, presumably as their parents wouldn't bother to read with them, take them places etc. All a bit offensive, but since they backed it up with data, I guess they had a point. Just because we didn't fit that mould didn't mean it didn't exist.

I decided I would send them on the course, since it would fill 6 weeks of summer and offered fun trips, swimming lessons etc. They seemed very eager to have my kids as apparently we count as a minority among the enrolled students - my kids were almost the only white kids there, so we helped them tick their boxes. I was glad I sent them - the kids loved every minute of it, made a whole heap of new friends they would otherwise never have met from other schools in the area, and did learn a fair bit as the scheme offered 1 teacher per 4 kids, tailoring the classes to suit the individuals.

If you are going to get labelled with the poverty thing, you may as well take up all the benefits available to help your kids.

Hesterton Thu 07-Feb-13 19:07:15

Absolutely, because you can bet he better off kids will also be doing swimming lessons, trips and activities... why should your DC miss out just because they are doing fine at school?

Really glad they enjoyed it too.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 19:56:20

"The summer school seemed to imply that the poorest kids were least likely to maintain knowledge over the summer, presumably as their parents wouldn't bother to read with them, take them places etc. All a bit offensive, but since they backed it up with data, I guess they had a point"

It's often nothing to do with not bothering. It's to do with no time, no space, no quiet, no ability, no confidence, no books................

ThingummyBob Fri 08-Feb-13 11:20:44

Do you think the school I'm helping in are breaking the data ptotection act then Worra and Clay? blush

I hope they are not, but tbh I don't rate the teacher much in the class I'm helping in, they seem a bit slack on a lot of things.

Should I mention to someone else at the school, maybe the head, that I am aware of who is on FSM in the class from the reading record and see what they say re data protection?

Btw, its not the individual reading records, its the class list, which is ticked and signed each time a child has a one-to-one reading session with someone.

The FSM childrens names are in a different coloured font with a little asterisk at the bottom of the list saying something like 'blue font = fsm' so it is really obvious to anyone who may see that list.

The reason it is like that is because the teacher told me that fsm children need to have one-to-one reading time everyday. I assumed this was school policy.

I know the same names are marked with an asterisk in the actual register too, but only because I happen to have glanced and seen it a few times, not because I've specifically been made aware of it iyswim.

As I said, I'm discrete. The teacher would know this I suppose (I am studying in social work, the helping at school is to help broaden my uni application when the time comes) I am known quite well to the school so maybe they have trused me where someone else may not be trusted with the same info.

I feel bad now, but generally believe the overall aim is to help the children as best they can, to learn, and become well rounded individuals, despite some of them being fairly economically disadvanatged.

ChunkyChicken Fri 08-Feb-13 11:42:59

Haven't read the whole thread, sorry, but at my secondary school we have to know which kids are FSM, EAL, LAC and various other acronyms for various other indicators of need & personal situation. I certainly don't judge each individual based on these but when you are using these groups to analyse progress 6 times a year, the fewer FSM etc students you have in a class, the easier it is!! Also, we have to have a fully annotated seating plan, indicating all the groups, target grades & so on, to prove to OfSted that we 'know' our students iyswim. So anyone looking at that would know Joe Bloggs is in receipt of FSM, has English as an additional language & has a target of level 4, so we just have to treat that as confidential.

So OP, I can see the comments would have been hurtful to you & perhaps tactless, but generally FSM status can mean more work for a teacher one way or another. It doesn't mean they're necessarily judging each individual child.

ibizagirl Fri 08-Feb-13 11:59:45

JoanByers. It wasn't just the once actually. It happened a lot of times. The children could choose and tick what they wanted the week before and that wasn't too bad. Once they stopped doing that and just turned up it all went to pot. I was told that the so-called vegetarian children were having jacket potates (which they were perfectly entitled to) and not eating the vegetarian meals that were provided. So all that was left were vegetarian meals and leftovers if you see what i mean. The best of it was when dd wanted Spanish omelette and was told it was all gone. She did have something else though. Next day in conversation with lady in school office we were talking about school meals and lady said "that Spanish omelette was delicious". Oh, i said, did you try it? She said that she had it for lunch on that day. Funny that as it had ran out!!

CashmereHoodlum Fri 08-Feb-13 13:52:31

ThingummyBob I would flag this up with the school and see what they have to say about it. Bear in mind that not all parent helpers are as discreet as you are, as I have found to my cost!

Don't feel bad because you are doing a great thing by helping out. It is the school's responsibility to know these things, not yours.

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