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AIBU to think there is a stigma attached to taking up Free School Meals?

(421 Posts)
cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 13:33:35

Would really value MNers experience here. DH and I have had a pretty disastrous year financially (redundancy for DH, drying up of contracts for me). However we are both working hell for leather to turn this around. In the meantime we're eligible for FSM, which frankly would be a big help. I also know that it helps the school gain a Pupil Premium.

But I'm a bit nervous about this. I don't want my daughter to be "targeted for help" as I believe anyone benefiting from FSM is (but perhaps I'm being idiotic - DD could surely use a booster in maths dept.) I also don't want any social stigma attached to this. It's a mixed school socially, but the majority is very middle class. Has anyone had any negative experience of taking this up? Or AIBU and it will all be fine?

HeySoulSister Thu 29-Aug-13 13:35:18

It will all be fine! What on earth do you think will happen?

Are you sure you are even eligible?

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 13:36:59

It will be fine.

Welcome to many ways to save money.

The schools like it.

Incidentally my children attend a really, really middle class village school.

Ofsted outstanding. blah blah

They have a higher than normal amount of FSM recipients!

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 13:37:43

The kids do get one less potato though wink

Goatshavestrangeeyes Thu 29-Aug-13 13:38:16

Honestly? It will be fine.

IME (I was a child who received fsm) other children do not care and I was certainly never bullied for it even though none of my friends were in the same position.

My children do not have fsm but if I was in the situation where I could claim them I would take it up no doubt about it. I couldn't give a shit what other people might or might not think. My children being fed is more important plus it saves the boring job of making sandwiches every day

CockyFox Thu 29-Aug-13 13:39:34

How can there be a stigma attached to it, only you and the school know and they like it because they get more money.
At our school all meals are paid for online so nobody takes dinner money anymore therefore nobody knows who has their meals free.

cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 13:40:20

HeySoul, yes I"m eligible. I suppose in my nightmare scenario there would be a patronising, pitying attitude from the staff, and a shunning from the parents.

God, as I write this it sounds so silly! But you asked...

Tryharder Thu 29-Aug-13 13:41:27

How can people tell?

I pay for school dinners online. No one sees me hand over cash or not if my children were receiving FSM.

In your situation, I would accept the help.

frogwatcher42 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:41:39

Nobody would know unless you told them.

Maryann1975 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:42:02

As fas as I'm aware at my children's primary school no one would even know who has free school meals apart from the office staff, class teacher and higher up school staff. Apart from when they closed the kitchen for a Week and FSM children were given a packed lunch in a brown paper bag rather than bringing one from home. The children were told that this was because so and so had forgotten their lunch, but if you know the families it was because they were free (I'm not being judgey, it's just I knew a couple of the families involved). The school children had no idea of the actual reason.
There is no shame in having had bad luck. You are doing all you can to turn your fortunes round. Claim what you can, this is why the benefits system should be there, to help you out when you need it.

Leeds2 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:42:55

I think in most schools the other children/parents have no idea as to who is in receipt of FSM.

If you are eligible, I think you would be daft not to take advantage of it.

About half the pupils at DD's (eek, from next week DS's school too) school are on FSM, no stigma at all. The teachers are aware of who gets it, because as part of the data collection they have to be able to show that the FSM children are making good progress. The pupils taking lunchboxes are the minority TBH.

Do claim. It also often means that some school trips are cheaper too, esp any residentials.

coppertop Thu 29-Aug-13 13:43:24

No-one will know.

At primary school the money is handed in to the teacher in the morning. No-one in the lunch queue will know who has paid.

At secondary school cashless cards are now the usual method of payment. Again, no-one knows where the money on those cards has come from.

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 13:43:24

Don't worry.

Why did you think everyone would know/find out?

You might want to think a little about how you viewed families that are in receipt of them.

Sometimes, it is a little about we might feel wink

neolara Thu 29-Aug-13 13:44:21

The onus on schools is to ensure that children receiving FSM do as well as those not receiving FSM. If you dd is already doing fine, I suspect the school will apply for the pupil premium and put it towards supporting some other child who is struggling. Very many children who receive FSM do not have any additional needs and do absolutely fine. Very many children who do not receive FSM are struggling. The pupil premium is a very crude way of distributing money. I think your school would be absolutely delighted if you applied for FSM.

Floggingmolly Thu 29-Aug-13 13:49:27

I'd never heard of the Pupil Premium until this thread. What an utterly bizarre method of apportioning school funds shock
Are children who's families are struggling financially assumed to have additional needs? shock

englishteacher78 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:50:10

My school's secondary FSM students sign for their dinner. But seeing as the boarders do as well, no one bats an eyelid smile

Runoutofideas Thu 29-Aug-13 13:50:40

I would have absolutely no idea who gets FSMs in either of my daughters' classes. Just apply - it will help you and it will help the school.

cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 13:54:25

Thank you all for replying so kindly. It sets my mind at ease and I realise I was worrying over nothing.

frogwatcher42 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:57:04

Floggingmolly - yes in a word.

Our school actively tries to get anybody entitled to FSC to sign up for them even if they don't want to. That way they get the extra money for the Pupil Premium.

SilverApples Thu 29-Aug-13 13:58:42

' I suppose in my nightmare scenario there would be a patronising, pitying attitude from the staff, and a shunning from the parents.'

Bloody hell, what kind of school is your child attending if you think that would be the response? shock You think the staff are patronising and pitying to some children? Have you seen it happen?
No, no-one will know if you get FSM or not. Do you know which children are receiving them in the school at the moment?
The information is confidential.
You are finding things a bit tricky at the moment, grab all the help you can as long as you need it and pay it forwards when you can. Our school also helps out with second-hand uniform, also confidentially. And trips, have a word and she'll be accommodated.
Don't worry, it's happening a lot now. Even in my leafy area, the most unlikely people are heading to the food bank in droves.
It's temporary, let the system be useful for once.

Don't worry! My DC are on FSM and no one really knows as such, it's not a dirty secret or anything, just there's no means for anyone to find out. I worried about what teachers would think/would assume they were trouble, but they don't. It means they get a nice meal and the school are usually very happy due to receiving money.

curlew Thu 29-Aug-13 14:02:16

One of the most reliable predictor of under achievement at school is parental poverty. Obviously, this does not mean that all poor children do badly, but many don't achive as well as hey should for a variety of reasons. FSM is a good indicator of parental poverty. The Pupil Premium is a way helping schools provide enrichment that better off parents can provide themselves. It!s a fantastic initiative.

LifeofPo Thu 29-Aug-13 14:02:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

My kids had free school meals on and off, i think at primary level no one would know, at secondary they got a free school meal card, mine never mentioned anyone saying anything, but we live in a deprived area and lots of the kids were on FSM

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 14:03:38

Even if it wasn't temporary ...its cool.

there are some families that know this is the only hot/nutritious meal their children will get that day.

SilverApples Thu 29-Aug-13 14:04:44

LifeofPo, how long ago was that?
Times change.

strokey Thu 29-Aug-13 14:05:22

I dont know if there is a stigma, maybe if its very rare at your school. In middle school free school meal children all have a card instead of cash at the till, and get school issue sandwiches on trips.

In primary I don't think the kids notice at all, but I always assume anyone without a lunch box is on free school meals, because, who else would choose them!

cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 14:05:59

Silver, my nightmare scenario is perhaps more to do with my fears and overactive imagination, than the kind of school DD attends.

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 14:08:05

The school meals here are excellent.

Really good quality.

I'd say better than the lunch I send mine with. I can't afford the school food.

SilverApples Thu 29-Aug-13 14:09:20

Well, thank the gods for that then. grin
It will be fine, truly.

strokey Thu 29-Aug-13 14:17:32

I would feel weird actually about the teachers knowing. As if there was a spotlight on my children. There is a campaign at the moment called "give a child a breakfast" which says 1 in 7 children go to school without breakfast. If my children got free school meals then Id feel that the school was assuming they might've gone without breakfast too.

I just mean I don't think you are nuts for asking.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 29-Aug-13 14:24:35

I can understand your worry, but I think it's unfounded.

The other children will have no idea, and the teachers will see your child as an individual

QueenofallIsee Thu 29-Aug-13 14:26:44

now that everyone pays online down our way, no one knows who is and who isn't! Gone are the days when you got a number or a card so it was obvious

a friend of mine gets FSM and during these holidays the civic centre sent her asda vouchers for food a couple of times to the value of 80 quid (for the entire hols iyswim) they may do the same in your area op.

Idespair Thu 29-Aug-13 14:31:50

Accept the help. I would think that staff look pityingly on children whose parents don't appear to love and nurture them, not children who get fsm.

MoominMammasHandbag Thu 29-Aug-13 14:44:28

One of my schoolgate friends mentioned that her husband was about to be made redundant. Someone imeadiately suggested she applied for free school meals. There was an unanimous opinion among all the Mums that people should be able to access help when times are tough for them. I live in leafy middle class land so I found it all rather heartening really. No one will judge OP.

TheGirlFromIpanema Thu 29-Aug-13 15:09:11

Interestingly I've just been reading dds high school website trying to find out exactly what day next week she goes back.

There is a separate tab for PP information and it states that last academic year they received funding of £100k for 196 pupils entitled to FSM. This accounts for almost 15% of total pupils.

The school is Ofsted outstanding (with a few areas of good) and has an excellent reputation in the area.

It is also populated almost entirely from one postcode in an area where the average house price is 30% more than the rest of the city.it is seen as a naice very middle class area (we are outside current catchment in a much more economically challenged estate area)

My point is that many, many people are struggling financially these days, and if 15% of a high school are entitled I don't see it can possibly be stigmatising in the way you think it may be.

Please don't worry and think of the good the school can do with the additional funding they will attract for your dc smile

TheGirlFromIpanema Thu 29-Aug-13 15:09:59

over £100k

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 29-Aug-13 15:10:31

Idespair

Excellent point

cantspel Thu 29-Aug-13 15:13:54

One of my sons best friends is on fsm. He always goes to lunch with him as there is enough for 2 bagels and they eat one each.

sheridand Thu 29-Aug-13 15:21:07

I wish we were eligible. We are on very low income and get working tax credits, but this is not enough, apparently, to get us a FSM. We are actually earning LESS than people entitled to FSM, but because we are on WTC and not CTC, we are not eligible. Another sodding stupid loophole. We have been advised to stop claiming WTC and get FSM instead, as this may help us open up other loopholes and enable us to get more help, but as DH is self-employed, it's not an option. Crazy, but we'd be better off if I were not working.

BrianButterfield Thu 29-Aug-13 15:26:42

Teachers do know who gets FSM but I promise it makes no difference to our perceptions of students and families whatsoever. In fact one family I knew who were eligible were the most middle-class family you could ever meet! All sorts of people get FSM now.

MohammedLover Thu 29-Aug-13 15:48:04

It sounds like things have improved since my day with prepayment cards. In our day the kids were outed and ridiculed by their names being written down near to the till or them not having to pay as much for the same meal that the next kid had.

HappyMummyOfOne Thu 29-Aug-13 16:05:33

Teachers have to know who gets FSM as they need to compile data etc to show those children do as well as non FSM children. FSM has long since been an indicator used in schools to target children from poor backgrounds.

The office staff and head will know too but other parents wont be told. It can be easy to figure out though if parents arent working and the children have hot lunches as dinners can be expensive.

I work in a school and i haven't a clue who is on FSM and who isn't. Nor do I waste my time trying to guess.

You won't be stigmatised by claiming, nor will you be able to pinpoint any 'extra' help your DD gets because of it as being a direct result of claiming.

MiaowTheCat Thu 29-Aug-13 16:44:35

The only difference it makes is that when you do the dinners or sandwiches lunch register you some times do a F rather than a tick, kids know no difference, they just answer the same. Ex supply who has done a lot of school dinner registers.

Ask me ten mins after the register has gone to the office and I couldn't even tell you which kids are hot dinners, let alone free ones!

mrspremise Thu 29-Aug-13 16:49:12

Not even the teachers know who gets free school meals (unless the parents or children tell them); that is highly confidential information and is restricted to the dinner money clerk/bursar and the senior management team in my experience of working in schools.

BrokenSunglasses Thu 29-Aug-13 17:01:24

I work in a very middle class school and I really don't think you need to worry. The class teacher and the office staff will know you claim FSM, and perhaps the lunchtime staff, but it's a complete non issue. They work in a school, they expect some children to be on FSM, even when the majority is very middle class.

AmberLeaf Thu 29-Aug-13 17:04:37

Gone are the days of queuing to get your free meal ticket.

Even at secondary, it is all done via plastic cards and no one should know either way who gets what.

One of my sons best friends is on fsm. He always goes to lunch with him as there is enough for 2 bagels and they eat one each

That sounds a bit off to me?

AmberLeaf Thu 29-Aug-13 17:06:29

Re the school trip FSM packed lunches;

My children when on FSMs have always taken a packed lunch from home, the FSMs ones are not compulsory.

blueemerald Thu 29-Aug-13 17:09:23

I've just finished my PGCE and have to say that every student teacher I came across (around 50 across the year) was given a class list for every class (secondary school) with FSM marked on. There were revision classes that only students with FSM were allowed to attend regardless of under/over achievement.

Schools are harshly judged by how their students on FSM achieve so every class teacher I've met knows exactly who gets them and who doesn't. That said I've never seen it make a difference to how a student is treated.

teacherandguideleader Thu 29-Aug-13 17:25:59

Our school tries to convince everyone to sign up as it gets us more money. You may also benefit from cheaper trips. No one really knows who gets FSM. The only time you might notice is on trips when they get a free packed lunch. Whenever I have taken a trip the FSM kids take their own lunch so as not to get singled out, I collect the number of free meals my group would be 'entitled' to and dish it out to whoever wants / needs it. Bizarrely none of them turn down free food!

MrsBW Italy Thu 29-Aug-13 17:26:27

I had FSM as a child. I had a little card I had to hand over Instead of cash, i.e. it was obvious I was a FSM kid... No paying online then.

No one said a word to me about it in the 4 years I claimed it.

float62 Thu 29-Aug-13 17:37:51

I do think it's a bit bizarre that the working low-paid (eg; those who get Working Tax Credits) aren't entitled to FSMs. It seems that it's only people on 'out of work' benefits that qualify, so it's not necessarily an 'economically' driven policy but one that can be used to ascertain quickly how many children live in households without a 'working parent'. It also assumes that a child will be academically disadvantaged because of this although this might not be the case. Surely the Pupil Premium should be used for 'whole school' enrichment or I can see that some subconscious 'labelling' of all FSM children as being less academically encouraged at home would occur by school staff.

FranklymydearIdontgiveadamn Thu 29-Aug-13 17:44:32

Believe me as a teacher I have a million and one things to worry about each day without concerning myself about who is getting free meals or not

FranklymydearIdontgiveadamn Thu 29-Aug-13 17:49:14

Float62, this is exactly how it works in Northern Ireland schools. It just does not correlate that free school meals equals a need for extra curriculum help.

JakeBullet Thu 29-Aug-13 17:54:01

I am entitled to FSM for DS and claim for them as his school get's a Premium for this. However, DS is autistic and hates school dinners with a passion. So I claim for them but he takes packed lunch which is fine with me although I have to admit NOT having an extra task in the mornings would be nice smile

float62 Thu 29-Aug-13 17:58:00

Yes, Frankly I'm sure that you do, it's just what Blue said about the revision classes being only available to FSM pupils. They should be available to all who need it as I'm sure there are those without FSMs who do and those with FSMs who don't, even if they are funded by the Pupil Premium). I still think that families on WTC should get FSMs, particularly as the Universal Credit caps are higher than the household income caps for FSMs (and I'm not benefits bashing if people suspect I am!).

noisytoys Thu 29-Aug-13 18:04:51

Back when I was in primary school the FSM children had to queue up separately to the children who paid for their meal, in secondary the FSM children had a meal ticket they tore out of a raffle style book. Thankfully a lot has changed since them days.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 29-Aug-13 18:06:10

When I was at school I had no idea that FSM existed! At primary we all had an envelope in our desk to put our dinner money in, you went up to the teacher on Monday morning, gave her the envelope and told her how many days you would be having school dinner. Obv the FSM children just handed over an empty envelope, but no-one knew. At secondary your name was on a list and you just gave your name to the dinner lady and she ticked you off.

Feenie Thu 29-Aug-13 18:06:20

Not even the teachers know who gets free school meals

Not true, I'm afraid - as a previous poster said, we need to know exactly who they are and we have to compile separate data on their attainment and achievement.

As a different poster said though, all sorts of different kinds of families receive free school meals, and no one at school bats an eyelid - it's just another list and another source of data, like how the boys in my class do in writing or how EAL children are achieving in Maths.

sameoldIggi Thu 29-Aug-13 18:08:04

Secondary teacher. Never have a clue which kids gets fsm, only time it would ever come up for me is if there was a trip and then those children would get a packed lunch with them. Here, getting fsm would mean you could get help at the school's discretion with other costs such as educational trips. But I wouldn't be told about that personally.

If this makes things easier for your family in other areas, then please take it.

BoundandRebound Thu 29-Aug-13 18:08:09

Yabu

No stigma, no way of telling at point of purchase

We get money for children on FSM for 6 years which is used to support underprivileged students

BackforGood Thu 29-Aug-13 18:11:01

Even if there were some people who would treat anyone differently (can't imagine this happening myself), I'm not sure how you think pople would know anyway - they don't make children taking up FSMs wear an orange boilersuit you know smile

CorrinaKedavra Thu 29-Aug-13 18:12:52

Blimey, have just looked up the percentage of FSM in DD's naice secondary in one of the richer areas (she gets the bus grin) and it has tripled in just three years.

They use cashless cards too. I used to pay on-line but now she's on FSM the money is just added automatically every week.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 29-Aug-13 18:19:35

I do think the OP is right to ask because we had negative experiences but it was many years ago. My older ds would have been singled out when they were at school. It sounds like it has changed for the good though now.
They used to have to carry a pass which the dc all referred to as a "Scav Pass". When we were entitled my dc refused because of the stigma attached to the pass and the fact that all their friends would know. So we had to manage without as I couldn't force them, it was an appauling system now, looking back. They are 22 and 18 now so it wasn't in the dark ages.

I was worried about this. I'm a student so zero income for the next year. I decided that if anyone developed any preconceptions about DS they would be dispelled when they got to know him so <shrug>

Talkinpeace Thu 29-Aug-13 18:31:24

DCs school keeps asking me if we are eligible as they REALLY REALLY want the extra £900 per year per pupil that comes with it ....

Its a secondary : the FSM kids get their biometric accounts topped up automatically and the kids all swap food anyway - it is really no big thing

DCs have worked out who the real hardship kids are - who get free breakfast as well - but as a couple of them are amazing at sport its not a bullying issue

Think of it this way
you save money on packed lunches AND the school gets extra funds
no brainer

TheSnowFairy Thu 29-Aug-13 22:57:38

Corrina the reason the numbers have tripled is that FSM students are now called Ever6. This means that if you have ever been entitled to free school meals within the last 6 years you are eligible for funding.

OP - no stigma at all in my school. You may get substantial discounts on trips too so well worth applying for if you can.

Evasmummy11 Thu 29-Aug-13 23:14:24

I qualified for free school meals at secondary school, I was given a ticket book for the month, I went to a 'normal' mix of everybody type of school and honestly no one cared! It was no big deal, but then my parents never made a big deal out of it either, so maybe you should relax and stop fretting over it smile

UniS Thu 29-Aug-13 23:34:36

NO stigma at DS's school. Meal ticket books are handed out at start of half term to those who have prepaid on line or have FSM, a ticket is handed in every day a meal is wanted. On trips the option of, school packed lunch in exchange for a meal ticket, is given to every family on the trip permission slip. Take up is high on trips as plenty of regular school dinner families don't want to make a packed lunch.

vj32 Thu 29-Aug-13 23:35:22

There is no stigma attached to FSM but in secondary schools the system can be badly administered - having to queue twice for your token and then your meal so you are always at the back of the lunch queue for example. In other schools where its all electronic other children would never know. So, depends.

Spikeytree Thu 29-Aug-13 23:38:51

FSM are part of the narrowing the gap agenda, so of course we teachers know who they are as they have their own section on the results analysis. PP money in our school is spent on one-to-one help in English and Maths for those on FSM who need it, not all children on FSM need the help (quite a lot who aren't do, but that's another debate).

No stigma here, we are cashless and use fingerprints to get lunch, so in the queue no-one would know. For trips most children on FSM bring their own packed lunch and we always have lots of lunches left and they usually get shared out among the ever hungry teenage boys.

Incidentally I was on FSM at school myself.

grants1000 Thu 29-Aug-13 23:42:14

I'm with you OP, DS1 starts secondary school in Sept & DH just lost his job, not been paid, long story. There is now way he's starting on FSM, just don't want him being flagged up/noted. It just sits with me badly, don't know why, I just want him to start normally, he's dyslexic and already gets additional support & I don't want the two sandwiched together because they are not linked!

Daft or not, it's the way I feel!,

manicinsomniac Brazil Fri 30-Aug-13 00:06:41

Slightly off topic but can anyone who teaches in the state system tell me if using fsm as a determining factor for extra money is really logical?

Is there much of a correlation between those who struggle academically and those on low income?

I work in a private school and 30-40% are on the SEND register but all bar the bursary students (who obviously need no help!) are well above the fsm threshold.

Doesn't seem like the two things link to me.

ElaineVintage Fri 30-Aug-13 06:41:22

In my day (I'm 32) in West Yorkshire/Leeds for FSM you were given a token to hand to the dinner lady. It was much more obvious and made you stand out. I got used to it but did make me feel a little uncomfortable.

BoundandRebound Fri 30-Aug-13 06:50:58

Struggle academically is not the same as not reaching potential

And yes there is an aggregate correlation between social deprivation and academic achievement.

State sector in highest social deprivation area with over 68% of students on FSM

BoundandRebound Fri 30-Aug-13 06:56:35

Sorry the " doesn't seem like the two link to me" is a very weird statement

We have free breakfast for all students, outreach programmes providing counselling, furniture (some of our students live in appalling conditions). We have students pitching up at 7am because school is just safer

You think it makes no difference to academics when children face poverty, overcrowding and gang warfare on streets, when there is generational unemployment and school refusal, when they are responsible as carers for sick or younger family members?

Misspixietrix Fri 30-Aug-13 07:44:58

cingolimama it will be fine. I understand what you mean about the social stigma but honestly the children really don't care. If it will help your situation why not? ~

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 07:47:34

well the fact that my children were on fsm for a while was used as a negative point against me by the school to SS.
and before anyone starts howling that i am wrong, that actually did happen.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 07:48:04

and it was assumed that i was uneducated etc

marriedinwhiteisback Fri 30-Aug-13 08:28:52

lifeofpo that happened to my bf too - she was beyond grief. And 40 years ago teenage girls did bitch about it. But it was 40 years ago. So we queued together - she had my money and I had her card.

cory Fri 30-Aug-13 08:39:55

40 years ago I can imagine other parents might have bitched. These days ime it isn't something children would pick up on and talk about. I have never known about any child my dc have been to school with if they are on free school meals or not.

christinarossetti Fri 30-Aug-13 08:44:52

Money is usually collected via the school office these days. The kids don't know who has or hasn't received fsm.

loveinthemist Fri 30-Aug-13 08:44:59

We qualified for Free School Meals for 6 months a couple of years ago due to a period of unemployment. We have 4DC and it really helped us at that time. No stigma at all. I know for a fact that this meant that the school qualified for x4 Pupil Premium and the Head was quite pleased about getting that extra money for the school!

My DC didn't realise they were getting FSM and the other children didn't have a clue either. The kitchen and office staff obviously knew but they are all lovely and knew what a tough time our family was going through at the time.

If you're eligible for it then claim it.

marriedinwhiteisback Fri 30-Aug-13 08:46:06

manicsomaniac I don't have research based evidence but when we sent dd to a comp with a very diverse intake (champagne socialists in 2m+ houses AND girLs from the estate around the corner) the expectations of the parents in relation to achievement and social things were very different. That's not to say that there weren't many girls from homes where money was very tight but they seemed to have well educated parents who had hit hard times who were vey supported from loving homes who would go on to achieve. I would say from two years in one school for example that of the 20 richest and most educated families 90% actively engaged with the school, education and the PTA but of the poorest and least educated families only 25% actively engaged. Having kept in touch I believe one or two girls at the top are off the rails, whereas this increases, with the addition of early teenage pgs, as the lowest levels of engagement are reached.

It's a problem for all society and one of inherited disengagement which I think is getting worse. Some people feel there is nothing to aspire to. I don't think educationalists are making it better.

unlucky83 Fri 30-Aug-13 08:46:32

If you are eligible go for it...
Here at primary no-one would know...
At secondary the children do know -
Children have to put money on their cards (in a machine) whilst for FSM the money is automatically on there...and a lot of the children go outside school for lunch but the FSM generally don't (although my DDs friend on FSM is given money at least once a week to go out of school too)..and it doesn't seem like any of the other children care etc ...
Getting FSM means you will get help with other things -
eg DD1's school in first 2 weeks back the first years have had bills for £65 (use of a locker for 3 yrs £20 inc £5 deposit for the key), £40 (materials for Home econ and Design tech) - (DD1 is second year so 'just' the £40)
on FSM it would have been £25 - £5 locker key deposit and £20 half the materials charge ...
I think it is a lot anyway for parents to have to pay especially with no prior warning (although you can pay the materials in two installments if you have to) especially if you are really struggling ....

Svrider Fri 30-Aug-13 08:58:36

I would take up fsm without a second thought
Not eligible tho hmm
Hmmm cheese sandwiches then

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 09:43:11

I wouldn't take the risk of being on any register like that. Not worth it.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 09:46:33

"I wouldn't take the risk of being on any register like that. Not worth it."

What on earth do you mean???

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 09:49:47

it is a risk actually, obviously not in an ideal world but we do not live in that Utopia sadly.
risk of being judged as uneducated and feckless by the school. risk of assumptions being made about the children, risk of being treated differently by the class teachers.
all of these are v real risks.

I have no idea who's on FSM at my dds school and I do t think the kids do either.

Before you accept them though please go and see what they are like. Dont look at the menu, actually go see what they are like. If they are nice then take them. If they aren't then don't.

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 09:54:39

But being eligible for fsm is based on fact: ie no earned income. The school would have a pretty good idea of you qualified or not even if you didn't take it up - why would it be a risk? Surely it's beneficial and a positive indicator of your parenting skills? Ie the dcs get a decent meal freeing up money for the other meals and needs. Weird to think its a flag of some sort.

Op - I would have no hesitation in taking them up.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 09:58:50

Weird to think its a flag of some sort - err no not weird at all, it most definitely IS a flag of a most definite sort.

Feminine Fri 30-Aug-13 10:02:00

A shame that in 2013 with all the dreadful problems in the economy.

We are still stigmatizing the 'poor'

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 10:03:37

Well, it sounds to me like if you get fsm, your family is being "flagged up" for extra help and there are lots of unfair assumptions there.

I got "extra help" in form of a few free nursery hours a week for respite when I opened up to hv about my pnd, sleep-deprivation and having no family or friends nearby to help me when ds was around 11 mths old. Turns out it meant that that I had to attend quite basic parenting classes at the nursery / children's centre to receive the hours. Having a uni degree in a relevant area and being very knowledgeable about latest psych in child rearing made no difference. I felt insulted and targeted in a crude way just for being depressed and sleep-deprived. They also wanted to force me to do cc on ds, which I really didn't want to do. I walked away from this arrangement and felt better immediately. Ds's sleeping sorted itself out eventually, as did my pnd, and in the meantime I felt happy I was in control of my own life. Do not want any official instances to "help" me ever again.

jessieagain Fri 30-Aug-13 10:12:01

Op it might be worthwhile asking the school how meals are provided for children claiming free meals.

If their system is not as discreet as some described by others here, maybe the school can change their system to make it more discreet? They might not be aware of some of these other ways.

jessieagain Fri 30-Aug-13 10:15:16

To answer your question, I wouldn't judge others, but I wouldn't claim them for my ds unless the system was very private and only admin staff and his teachers knew.

ConferencePear Fri 30-Aug-13 10:16:28

Is there some way that you can find out what the system is like in the school(s) they attend ?
In the secondary school I work in I just don't know who has free meals. The children pay (or don't) at the school office and all the kids have a swipe card.
I thought this was universal, but I see from the thread that there is a great variety.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 10:17:17

risk of being judged as uneducated and feckless by the school. risk of assumptions being made about the children, risk of being treated differently by the class teachers.

These are negligible - no one gives it a second thought, and if one single person were to voice that kind of prejudice they would be pulled up immediately as unprofessional and ridiculous. Wouldn't happen.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 10:19:09

well it does happen I can assure you

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 10:22:37

You really need to explain that comment then, or you are at risk of being dismissed as scaremongering.

Goldenbear Fri 30-Aug-13 10:22:57

I don't think there is a stigma attached to it at all but at my DS's school the only way other parents find out, as far as I can see, is from the 'late book' as there is a column to tick if your child receives FSM.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 10:23:57

ok "IME" that is what happened, how's that?

Ezza1 Fri 30-Aug-13 10:26:17

Burberryqueen, what on earth do you mean by a "flag"? I am genuinely confused by people's attitudes on here regarding free school meals.

I don't think BQ should have to tell everyone what happened its private. Just because 95% of posters state that they have no experience of any negative incidents regarding their FSM doesn't mean that someone else is lying because unless you were at the school at and know otherwise then you can't say it didnt happen.

CorrinaKedavra Fri 30-Aug-13 10:27:43

TheSnowFairy that's interesting about Ever6, thanks.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 10:31:09

thank you caffeinedrip, and ezza when i used 'flag' i was quoting from another post.

I don't think these days anyone would realise as children don't tend to hand over cash to pay for their lunches. At least they don't at my DC's school.

We qualified for free school meals when I was at secondary school. You had to tell the cashier your FSM number instead of paying cash and it was quite embarrasing. But I think things have changed since then.

And remember , there are thousands if not more children at hundreds of schools that are in receipt of meals. Surely it's perfectly believable that some of them are going to have had some negative responses. To say otherwise would be like saying that no one is ever ever wrong.

Farewelltoarms Fri 30-Aug-13 10:41:30

The schools have to report the results of FSM children in a separate section. If your kids have FSM and supportive parents and are doing well at their work, then the school would be absolutely delighted and thrilled. They're not going to assume they're doomed to failure, quite the contrary. They will be overjoyed and do everything they can to enhance their achievement further.

Farewelltoarms Fri 30-Aug-13 10:42:18

PS my kids in a school with 50% FSM. PP has absolutely transformed the school's budgets and really helped the life chances of children receiving additional one-to-one support.

Ezza1 Fri 30-Aug-13 10:43:23

To which you responded that it is a most definite flag burberry.

I'm intrigued as to how claiming something like free school meals can be a negative thing for a family and exactly what sort of intervention happens if they are claimed. Does the same not apply with things like childrens tax credit or the Healthy Start vouchers? All of which I have claimed at some point or other over the years when a single parent incidentally. I have never had any problems, my children have never been bullied or treated differently by friends or teachers.

I'm shocked that in 2013 people still stigmatise or have a fear of claiming something they are perfectly entitled to.

TrinityRhino Fri 30-Aug-13 10:45:29

everyone knows if your kids has FSM or not around here

when they take register they take dinner money so kids see which ones dont pay

but it doesn't matter

if it matters to someone then it is their problem not yours

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 10:46:27

BQ, i agree it can be a flag. Children on FSM are classed as being deprived and likely to be in a non working household so obviously if agencies liks SS are involved its used as an indicator no different to being used in school as an indictator. The school has the pupil premium to spend on these children as past results show they are likely to far worse in exams and outcomes that non FSM children. Schools have to justify how they have spent this money to improve outcomes.

Agree with the poster who says that staff would know who is eligible even if they dont claim as they would know if the parents worked or not as children talk etc.

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 10:52:43

If I were allowed to claim FSMs for my children, I'd jump at the chance!

They are at secondary schools that use a cashless system and their accounts would be topped up automatically without anyone except school staff being aware.

My income is pretty much the same as it would be if I claimed child tax credits, except it is earned rather than claimed. I think it's unfair that my children are penalised and denied something that other children are entitled to when their families income is almost exactly the same. It becomes even more discriminatory when families who are entitled to FSMs can also get help with paying for trips and their children can get extra tuition lessons.

The whole thing needs to be reformed, and entitlement to FSMs should be based on parental income, not where that income comes from.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 10:54:35

ok "IME" that is what happened, how's that?

I don't think you should have to explain, either - but can't take your comments seriously without an explanation. They were very bold and unusual claims, after all.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 10:54:49

well my children didnt see a penny of benefit from PP when i was not working in their year 6.....
children could only attend after school clubs if their parents paid up front for half a term at a time.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 10:55:37

they are not 'bold and unusual' claims at all.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 11:01:20

They really are. You said children may be at risk of:

1) being judged as uneducated and feckless - that's ridiculous - one of my FSM last year was top of the class in everything and went on to a top private school in Y6, paid for by a relative. Some are able, some are average, and some need extra support. It's an emotive comment and needs substantiating - by whom, for example? Could you say it hypothetically?
2)assumptions being made about the children - like what? And by whom? As others have said, the list of children who receive FSM is so diverse that it would be impossible.
3)risk of being treated differently by the class teachers - what do you mean, exactly? Treated differently how? confused

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 11:04:27

ok so you are a primary school teacher - I see.
perhaps in your school these things do not happen but all I am saying is that i felt judged by one class teacher who spoke to me like rubbish, and I do not think that would have happened without FSM. I also had a teacher using this information as a mark against me to SS.
that is merely my experience and opinion, which will of course differ from yours.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 11:06:08

and it was ME who was judged as uneducated and feckless not the children!!grin

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 11:07:31

You don't get flagged to SS for FSMs alone, if you were, then there were other factors at play.

I think the more extreme opinions/issues on FSMs say more about the individuals feelings about what it means than anything else TBH.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 11:09:39

perhaps in your school these things do not happen but all I am saying is that i felt judged by one class teacher who spoke to me like rubbish, and I do not think that would have happened without FSM.

I'm really sorry that you felt that way - but how do you know it was because of FSM? Someone that horrible wouldn't stop at being exclusively nasty just to FSM parents/children.

I respect that your experiences and opinions will be different from mine - but as a teacher, I am having difficulty imagining the end of that sentence to SS 'And of course, he/she is on FSM so........' confused

BackforGood Fri 30-Aug-13 11:09:47

burberry - I don't know when your dc were in Yr6, but the Pupil Premium money (and the way it is tracked) is a LOt different to the schools grants of even a few years ago.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 11:10:36

I believe you burberry. It does mean something when pp is linked with fsm. That is to say that children who receive fsm need extra help with their school work, because they don't get the right help at home. I would be insulted by the assumption that the poor or (temporarily) unemployed are stupid and unsupportive of education. And not all teachers are saintly and free of prejudice. Steer clear of fsm if you can, unless you can ask someone you know well at the school what their particular experience is like.

I thin it would lessen the stigma if fsm was based purely on income (employed or not) and pp was distributed in some way directly linked to academic performance.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 11:11:37

Your experience sounds terrible - but it doesn't translate to 'don't have FSM, because THIS happened'. FSM don't appear to have any bearing here.

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 11:12:59

I agree Amber.

Teachers IME do sometimes judge parents, but they make their judgements on parents who never send in PE kit, or who are regularly late, or who send their child into school with shoes that don't fit so the children end up complaining to them all day, or who don't do anything at all to support their learning, and probably many other things that directly affect the child. They can usually make fairly accurate judgements when they have known a family for a while, but they are not so heartless that they don't understand genuine issues and problems. They don't make judgements based purely on FSM entitlement.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 11:13:53

"Steer clear of fsm if you can, unless you can ask someone you know well at the school what their particular experience is like."

Please don't frighten people like this!

One poster has said she thinks that a bad experience she had with a teacher might have been because her child was on FSM and you're saying stuff that might mean struggling parents reject a valuable and deserved benefit....

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 11:15:29

Exactly, brokensunglasses and curlew.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 11:18:53

BQ, most schools seem to spend on support staff to ensure small teaching groups rather than after school clubs. They have to show achievement in the pupils in literacy and numeracy.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 11:20:16

I probably have some kind of "black mark" against me in ss books, because I was deemed "uncooperative" when I complained about having to take classes, which I could have taught and refusing to give into the pressurising about cc ("your fault you've got pnd, then, if you won't help yourself!"), then walking away from their "help". They really made me feel like a shit parent, although there were absolutely no concerns regarding ds and his development or treatment by me. My only crime was to have pnd and not sleeping well.

Feminine Fri 30-Aug-13 11:22:37

Free school meals should also be available for parents in receipt of working tax credit!

If you receive just one penny of it, you are denied all kinds of help.

I've never got that.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 11:22:38

ok fine well mine didnt get offered any small teaching groups or after school clubs - the SENCO did however spent her time making a long and detailed list of uncorroborated misinformation about me as a parent; for example that my dd was short sighted and I had never taken her for an eye test ( totally untrue) or that my son had been seen with a can of pop.
all of this was reported to SS. SS closed the file in about a week.
I personally do not think this would have happened without the FSM and invisible PP.

Feminine Fri 30-Aug-13 11:23:07

never *understood I should clarify.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 11:23:12

But, I have to be clear, DS is still in preschool so I have no experience of school or fsm. Neither do I know anyone who receives them. It's just that I'm a bit wary now. Once burned, twice shy..

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 11:26:20

But surely taking up fsm is better than not if ss are involved? Wouldn't ss think well thank god they are not spending money on lunch, means they have more for dinner/ breakfast etc?
I just think taking it up or otherwise won't stop school knowing or suspecting you would be eligible?

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 11:34:10

Free school meals should also be available for parents in receipt of working tax credit!

No, it shouldn't.

The income of someone on WTC is not going to be any different to someone who earns a little bit more but too much to be entitled to working tax credit.

It needs to be linked to overall income, no matter whether that income is earned or claimed in either working or child tax credits.

Otherwise you are just adding yet another disincentive to work into the mix, and as we already know, working does not always pay.

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 11:41:00

Burberryqueen, do you think that everyone who claims FSMs is reported to SS just because they claim FSM?

Do you even think that every child who claims FSM in the school you are referring to was reported to SS?

No, they probably weren't. And maybe you did just have the unfortunate experience of being referred to SS for no reason other than an unscrupulous teacher. But I'd be willing to bet good money that SS were not involved purely because you claimed FSMs.

You are scaremongering, and potentially causing a family reading this serious financial hardship because they believe they could be risking SS intervention if they claim what they are entitled to.

Share your experience, but don't keep insisting that your experience was down to your FSM claim, when it is highly unlikely to have made any difference whatsoever.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 11:43:16

"ok fine well mine didnt get offered any small teaching groups or after school clubs - the SENCO did however spent her time making a long and detailed list of uncorroborated misinformation about me as a parent; for example that my dd was short sighted and I had never taken her for an eye test ( totally untrue) or that my son had been seen with a can of pop.
all of this was reported to SS. SS closed the file in about a week.
I personally do not think this would have happened without the FSM"

Wow. Everyone PLEASE ignore this. This poster may have been treated abysmally by the school, but IT WAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FSM!. Claim what you are entitled to

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 11:44:57

ok then, we live in a lovely fluffy egalitarian world where all primary school teachers and particularly SENCOs, no sorry 'professionals', are paragons of fairness, non-judgementalness and all round loveliness.
Happy now?

I believe you burberry

School sounds appalling. The fact that they even mentioned the FSM was appalling it shouldn't have had anything to do with it.

Feminine Fri 30-Aug-13 11:48:11

brokennot being difficult but I don't understand your post (where you quoted me)

Why should people who get WTC because they work not get help?

Those that get FSM also get help with outings/trips.

Just recently the school has a residential trip planned for yrs 5/6 -its going to be close to £200! We won't get any help as we get a tint bit of WTC.

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 11:50:49

Burberry, what you are missing is that even if what happened to you is being described completely accurately, it is not the norm. It is not something that other people considering whether or not to claim FSMs should worry about, because if it does happen the way you say it did, then it's extremely rare.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 11:52:12

FSMs dont 'entitled' you to much of a discount on school journeys anymore. not like it used to be.

Burberry, Im not doubting you have had a bad experience with your childs school, I know it happens.

But it really wasn't because your child was getting free school meals and it is a bit off for you to share that on a thread like this.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 11:52:28

entitle not entitled!

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 11:53:46

i am not 'missing' anything i think a lot of people are simply deluded.
let's hope you are right anyway, i was certainly never treated like that when i paid or sent packed lunches.

Millais Fri 30-Aug-13 11:54:25

I would say apply and relax. I have worked in many schools and never found pupils treated any differently because of fsm entitlement. Also social services would have seen it as a protective factor (parents have applied, child being fed) rather than a flag of poor parenting.
Sadly research does show that pupils who have been in receipt of fsm do under achieve as a group but also data shows that many do very well and out perform their peers.
Teachers do know as the progress of groups needs to be analysed but fsm is just one of many groups to be looked at.

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 11:55:58

Sorry Feminine, maybe I didn't make myself clear.

I don't think that people on WTC should be denied FSMs, I just think that it's unfair that any type of tax credit is used as eligibility criteria for FSMs.

People's earned income after tax can often leave them with exactly the same amount of money available as someone on tax credits can get. So I don't think tax credits should be considered at all. I think overall income should be considered because that's what actually indicates whether someone needs help or not regardless of whether it is earned or claimed.

friday16 Fri 30-Aug-13 11:58:26

It sounds like BQ's children are at a school which needs its budgets cut. They have a SENCO who has time to waste on reporting people to social services on the basis that they are on FSM (as if social services don't have anything better to do with their time), and a management culture which says that they would rather behave spitefully than receive additional funding. They clearly have an underemployed member of staff whose hours should be cut (the SENCO with time on their hands) and a budget excess (which is why they can be contemptuous of PP).

Most, if not all, schools need every penny they can get, and their SENCO doesn't have time to help the children that need help, never mind manufacturing nonsense for their own amusement.

BQ's experience could be summarised as "my children are at a shit school, whose staff behave like shit". Most people's experience is not like that.

Feminine Fri 30-Aug-13 11:58:37

Oh I see broken thanks smile

Seems most families are trapped in some kind of credit reliance.

Your point makes sense. I wish they did that also.

Sunrunner Fri 30-Aug-13 12:02:18

I think it is natural to worry about your child being stigmatised. The school ds goes to is entitled to a pupil premium for him. There was a week of activities for children where the school recieve a pp for them and i was concerned that he would be judged by the other children/parents.

I actually don't think that was the case now though. (although he didn't attend for different reasons)

I wouldn't be able to tell which children recieved fsm (I suppose I would have been able to guess by who went to the activities) but it's not something I think others judge on, or at least I hope not.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 12:03:26

"ok then, we live in a lovely fluffy egalitarian world where all primary school teachers and particularly SENCOs, no sorry 'professionals', are paragons of fairness, non-judgementalness and all round loveliness.
Happy now?"

No we don't. However we don't have a world where a child being on FSM is a flag for social services, either.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 12:04:29

yes we do i heard it from the year head's mouth to the social worker..I WAS THERE!!!

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 12:06:13

although actually it was probably more about me being a single mother with ideas above her station in life.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 12:07:10

She may have said, but that doesn't mean it is a flag for SS.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 12:07:59

Those that get FSM also get help with outings/trips.

In your school. That's not a blanket thing.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 12:08:34

yes that is true amberleaf...

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 12:09:28

although actually it was probably more about me being a single mother with ideas above her station in life.

Perhaps it was - how utterly appalling.

But - again - not a reason why the OP, or others, should not claim FSM.

Ezza1 Fri 30-Aug-13 12:10:57

I'm finding this all very sad. Free school meal children back 30 years ago certainly were looked upon "differently" and it had a certain stigma attached to it.

However I'm disliking the assumption that a child in receipt of fsm is academically less likely to succeed. My DS is an A* student. Neither my lone parenting nor receipt of any benefits over the years has any bearing on that. Ive always been short of money. He has always been a willing learner and I have always encouraged him.

30 years ago there was a family of 11 in my school. All had fsm. All went on to university and now have own businesses/good jobs. Well done that family - they took a lot of shit back then from other children - and some adults (no tv, no new clothes, 2 big banger cars etc...)

Tarring all fsm claimants with the same brush is horrible and the paranoia and snobbery of a few seems to fuel it.

friday16 Fri 30-Aug-13 12:12:22

"although actually it was probably more about me being a single mother with ideas above her station in life."

Are you seriously saying that social services opened a file on your child because the head of year summoned a social worker and told them your child was getting FSM? Given that a typical school has around 25% of its intake on FSM, it's a wonder your local child protection team get any work done.

friday16 Fri 30-Aug-13 12:13:37

"However I'm disliking the assumption that a child in receipt of fsm is academically less likely to succeed."

www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/news/russell-group-under-fire-over-class-bias/

"It says the odds of a child at a state secondary school who is eligible for free school meals in Year 11 – the final year before they begin their sixth form studies for university admission – going to Oxbridge by the age of 19 is almost 2,000:1 against. By contrast, the odds of a privately educated child being admitted to Oxbridge are 20 to 1."

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 12:17:12

Are you seriously saying that social services opened a file on your child because the head of year summoned a social worker and told them your child was getting FSM
no

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 12:19:29

ESA, you are right and that's exactly why the pupil premium being attached to FSMs is unfair and illogical.

There are children on FSMs that don't need extra help beyond what they would usually get from school to achieve academically, and there are other children who have swimming pools at home that desperately need school intervention. The latter group children have as much right to extra support from their government and school as children whose parents get benefits.

There are a lot of children who are being failed because of the system we currently have. If you don't get a tick next to your name in a box labeled FSM, SEN, EAL or anything else, then you are fair game to ignore, because no ones going to check up on your achievement.

Sunrunner Fri 30-Aug-13 12:50:53

Sunglasses, the pupil premium that the school recieves for my son is not to do with income (and as a household are income is higher than average) however statistically he is disadvantaged. So although he is doing very well at school there are many children from the same backround who aren't.

If children, as a group, are suffering due to their needs not being met, then how should they be identified? I can't see how it would be easy to differentiate them from their general peers?

marriedinwhiteisback Fri 30-Aug-13 12:55:48

Having read the whole thread the only bit I have an issue with is the highly performing child who got into a private school for which a relative is now paying. If the child was on fsm why wasn't the relative paying for the school meals. Benefits are for those who can't manage and have nowhere to torn imo. That child will not be able to access fsm at an indy and it seems odd to me to take a state benefit when thousands of pounds are avAilable for education in another sector.

Er perhaps the relative came into money around the time the kid would be moving up?

So everyone should scrounge off parents their whole life rather than claim what they are entitled to? Seriously?

And u do realise his or her spouse could have died and that's how the money came about. What a nasty post.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 13:05:48

I dont think its fail safe but given the stats speak for themselves it clearly shows why the government past and present use this method.

By only giving FSM to households where nobody works, it means the pupil premium can try and address the imbalance of outcomes for these children in the hope that they gain aspirations and go on to do well in life rather than become the next generation of claimants.

If every child on FSM met the same levels as the rest then they would soon scrap FSM and pupil premiums as it wouldnt be needed. Whilst some children dont need the help many obviously do.

I doubt FSM is a factor alone for SS but it may be looked at if they are already involved purely for the predicted outcomes for the child.

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 13:08:58

By only giving FSM to households where nobody works, it means the pupil premium can try and address the imbalance of outcomes for these children in the hope that they gain aspirations and go on to do well in life rather than become the next generation of claimants
one thing my children are not doing as a result of my temporary unemployment is 'becoming the next generation of claimants'.
thank you

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 13:09:26

^ ^ and it is attitudes like that that put people off applying

And of course without claiming some benefits you are unable to claim for others. So accessing finding for child are so some one could go to college and learn/train for a career to help get them off benefits , would be impossible if family paid for everything.

Child care

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 13:23:58

The relative concerned is a celebrity who chose to intervene in school fees at that point in the child's life.

What a kind thing to do for that child smile

BrokenSunglasses Fri 30-Aug-13 13:34:11

Sunrunner, I do realise that the PP is not only given for FSMs or reasons of income.

I think it's fine to use these indicators to identify groups of children as a whole, and to use these figures statistically.

But in a classroom situation, they don't need to be differentiated from their peers. All children need to have their needs met, regardless of whether they can be identified as fitting into a group that is statistically disadvantaged or not.

Like you say, your child is not typical of the group he belongs to, and there are many many children like that, from all groups, including the ones that are statistically more likely to achieve. But IME, the children from the groups that are identified as more likely to achieve just because they don't fit into one of the boxes are likely not to have their needs met to the same degree as the other children.

Teachers are able to access extra support from their heads and outside agencies when children don't succeed academically or have behaviour problems as long as those children can be categorised as being disadvantaged in some way. But try and get extra support for a child that comes from a middle class family who doesn't tick any of the boxes, and support just isn't there.

I think that's wrong.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 13:39:28

That's not my experience. No outside agency has ever said to me 'Not FSM? Sorry, can't help.'

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 13:45:55

Well, we get WTC, and we can't get a thing, despite actually earning UNDER the eligibility for FSM for people on CTC. It is unfair, as I see it, that I can be working, earning, trying to earn a crust and not get FSM which would REALLY help us, and others who are claiming more and getting more, can. As a family we are suffering redundancy and a massive drop in income to just one wage and one self employed part-time wage. We earn about 14K, all told. We get, hopefully, some day soon, 50 quid per week WTC. My god, FSM would really help us. But we're not entitled. If I were on CTC, I would be.

Sunrunner Fri 30-Aug-13 13:46:56

I suppose in my experience, the first time I aware of having something done purely for those children with the pp was the week of activities this year.

Previously I thought the extra money just went into the schools budget as an extra and didn't have to specifically enhance the education of the individual child. That must be the case in some schools though.

Does the pp have to be used in a specific way?

burberryqueen Fri 30-Aug-13 13:47:44

no it is just extra money for the school to be used at the head's discretion

Sunrunner Fri 30-Aug-13 13:51:27

That's what I thought burberryqueen, so in reality it helps all children at the school.

Talkinpeace Fri 30-Aug-13 14:06:44

The vast majority of children on FSM come from households where adults are in work.
The national minimum wage works out at £12304.50 for a full time job.
The cutoff for FSM is £17500 ish
many children have parents working part time on low pay so will get FSM even though both parents work

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 15:18:03

The vast majority of children on FSM come from households where adults are in work

If you work and get WTC Im pretty sure your child is not eligible for FSMs.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 15:21:11

Eligibility criteria
Income Support

Income Based Jobseekers Allowance

An income-related employment and support allowance

Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Child Tax Credit, but not receiving Working Tax Credit, and your annual income does not exceed £16,190

The guarantee element of State Pension Credit

Parents receiving Working Tax Credit for four weeks after their employment finishes are entitled to free school meals during that period. This also applies to parents who start working less than 16 hours per week

You are not entitled to Free School Meals if you receive Working Tax Credit except where the '4 weekrun-on' applies as described above

Talkinpeace Fri 30-Aug-13 15:25:28

what about the under 16 hours a week ....

interesting, they have clearly narrowed it at the same time as promoting it - no wonder the schools want that dosh

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 15:26:43

If you work under 16 hrs a week you aren't entitled to WTC are you?

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 15:30:27

Children eligible for FSM are as a cohort less likely to achieve their potential than children who aren't. That is a incontrovertible fact- all you have to do is look at the "narrowing the gap" section of your school's stats to see that. This isn't casting aspersions at your particular individual child- it doesn't say that applies to every child. Your child might be smashing through his targets and achieving like nobody's business. T most won't be. And putting provisions in place for children who are identified as a group as needing extra support is just practical common sense, surely.

Talkinpeace Fri 30-Aug-13 15:30:58

in a two parent household ... but its 24 for single parent still isn't it ?
Either way
If you are eligible, take it : use the chance to lighten pressure on your own finances and help the school while you are having hard times and then come back off FSM when employment improves

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 15:39:46

Think its always been 16 for single parents. not 24, think thats the two parent household.

forehead Fri 30-Aug-13 16:04:21

Thirty ago, there was definitely a stigma attached to FSM.
My mother was a single parent and as a result my siblings and i were entitled to FSM. However, my mother was worried that we would be stigmatized and instead preferred to pay for our dinners.

grants1000 Fri 30-Aug-13 16:49:08

So if me or Dh earned 50K and DS who is dyslexic would not be classed as socially deprived/poor/struggling/under acheiving etc etc BUT if we were claiming FSM for him due to redundancy he'd automatically be viewed totally differently ie: dyslexic and socially deprived/poor/struggling/under acheiving etc etc.

See the two things don't fit at all!

grants1000 Fri 30-Aug-13 16:50:52

Curles - "Children eligible for FSM are as a cohort less likely to achieve their potential than children who aren't. That is a incontrovertible fact- all you have to do is look at the "narrowing the gap" section of your school's stats to see that. This isn't casting aspersions at your particular individual child- it doesn't say that applies to every child. Your child might be smashing through his targets and achieving like nobody's business. T most won't be. And putting provisions in place for children who are identified as a group as needing extra support is just practical common sense, surely."

hmm

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 16:51:40

Honestly, teachers do not have lower expectations of pupils on FSM, we don't judge the parents or child - I am a teacher who received FSM myself as a child. I've seen this issue from both sides. I got the best results in my school year, a prize for distinguished studies at sixth form and a much better degree than my wealthy cousins. There is an correlation at group level between FSM and underachievement, but we aren't daft in school, we see the individual. My highest performing GCSE student this year was on FSM and her parents were highly supportive and interested in her studies, why wouldn't they be? Equally some of the more wealthy parents can be as disinterested as they come. If your child's school doesn't see them as an individual with individual talents and needs then that is a bigger problem than FSM.

sameoldIggi Fri 30-Aug-13 16:51:57

Grants, he would be dyslexic and poor, surely, in that scenario?
Unless we think unemployed people are rich.

sameoldIggi Fri 30-Aug-13 16:53:04

Curlew - exactly.

grants1000 Fri 30-Aug-13 16:53:18

Curlew - "Children eligible for FSM are as a cohort less likely to achieve their potential than children who aren't. That is a incontrovertible fact- all you have to do is look at the "narrowing the gap" section of your school's stats to see that. This isn't casting aspersions at your particular individual child- it doesn't say that applies to every child. Your child might be smashing through his targets and achieving like nobody's business. T most won't be. And putting provisions in place for children who are identified as a group as needing extra support is just practical common sense, surely."

And here is the reason why people get annoyed angry sweeping generalisations, as if there may only be one or two excpetions that prove the rule and in the main their is a link. Nonsense.

sameoldIggi Fri 30-Aug-13 16:58:21

But there is a link. It may not be a causal relationship, but there is a connection of some sort.
At the other end, do you think the majority of kids who go to Oxbridge do so purely from hard work and natural talent - or do you think there might be a connection with the income and educational aspirations of their parents, and the ability/desire to send them to private schools?

I received FSM and so did two of my friends. We all got good GCSE and A level results, got places at good universities and got decent degrees.

However I am aware that the majority of the children on FSM in our year didn't.

I would hope though that every child was treated as an individual, rather than sweeping generalisations based on their backgrounds or parental incomes.

What I don't understand is that these circumstances can happen to any one if us. Someone could wake up tomorrow find out they have no job or be so ill they can't work and bam, one child entitled to a FSM. Only he's the same kid as the day before. The one who has supportive parents and is doing well and that's not changed. How can that kid be one day top achiever in the class and the next day part of a statistic that says he won't do so well and need extra support?

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 17:08:32

I repeat, I don't understand why we can't access them! WTC, less than 16K a year, and I am an ex-teacher ( now a TA) and husband is a redundant business exec now self employed caterer. Our house is full of books, the kids do well, we just need help with maybe not spending so much on lunchboxes, but we get NOWT!

Where I live, the majority of FSM are benefit dependent, and yes, as an ex-teacher, returner to work I do see that there's a need to give extra money, for all sorts of reasons. However, what I am seeing now is an increase in hungry kids who are NOT in receipt of FSM, because they are not eligible. Mine are not included in that, yet, because we have nice in-laws! But they could be, our budget is currently so tight that we have very little leeway. FSM would make a HUGE difference to me, one less thing to worry about. There's a whole new cohort of families out ther who under this government were the "squeezed middle" and are now the "one half redundant" middle, who get no help, as I see it.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 17:20:22

sheridand it is an issue and one that has been cited as a barrier to re employment for those who have been existing on benefits.

Once you are back to work you lose various bits of support and don't necessarily have the income to fall back on if you are on a low wage.

People I know in that position tend to send in packed lunches as school meals for 2+ children per week can be expensive.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 17:21:37

I think school meals should be free for all.

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 17:38:13

Even 2 packed lunched works out extortionately on our budget, that's why it would be so helpful to have FSM! If we could send them in with flasks and leftovers, it would be great, but they're not allowed them! So the packed lunch becomes quite spenny, unless you use the cheapest of the cheap bread and ham etc.I really wanted to be able to send them in with chicken drumsticks and so on, as these are often leftover from husbands catering self-employment, but they are not allowed. I do use Lidl and Aldi, but nonetheless, buying two packed lunches all week is a sizeable portion of our income, one that, if they were entitled, we'd be able to put to say, shoes! (Cue flood of people who make a nutritious packed lunch for a penny)

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 17:42:05

premium faqs.pdf
Link very useful for those doubting the link. There's no reason for people to be offended by the link made - surely it's not rocket science that you can have exceptions to a group?

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 17:45:08

I think school meals should be made available to all kids. We have hit a massive financial blip and I am dreading the packed lunch spend after the summer. And school dinners aren't affordable. 2.50 per child ( 4 children)

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 17:50:12

Me too, Nerfmother. Once i've made 2 rounds of sandwiches, put in two yoghurts, grapes, tangerines, crisps, cucumber, hummus, cheese and cereal/ seeds, it works out very expensive! But I simply can't do a fiver a day. I don't know how we will mange tbh, it turns out that working for years and years entitles you to sod all, when it comes down to it.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 17:52:04

Cue flood of people who make a nutritious packed lunch for a penny

grin Ok...I won't!

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 17:53:42

I do think the DfE and d of h should team up and fund meals: the obesity crisis, current recession, food banks - all of this would indicate a hidden poor. Otoh, it would mean a rethinking of the indicators for the pupil premium.

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 17:54:00

Might start a petition

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 17:54:06

sheridand I think your packed lunches are quite large, do they get time to eat all that?

That reads like a picnic!

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 17:55:28

I don't understand why the pp can't just be given to schools according to academic performance levels?

TheYamiOfYawn Fri 30-Aug-13 17:56:11

Wheresmycaffeinedrip - the child will still have supportive parents, but might face all sorts of new problems - studying while cold and hungry, having to move house, possibly with a long walk to school in worn-out shoes, a stressful atmosphere at home.

And in schools with a lot of pupils living in poverty, there are also likely to be problems with low aspirations/expectations, substandard housing, and families who are living in poverty because of other serious problems within the family.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 17:58:37

Sheridand, they sureky need nearly that much food for lunch. As an adult i wouldnt eat all that in one mel. They want to eat and go out to play as quickly as possible.

Unless they stopped CB then theres no way we could afford FSM for all. Many wouldnt want them any way as prefer to make their own childs lunches and some are fussy and primary doesnt always offer much choice.

Whilst WTC may exclude FSM its still an extra payment that those over the threashold dont get, still means eligible for CB and usually those on WRC qualify for HB and reduced council tax so are not left with no help.

friday16 Fri 30-Aug-13 17:58:37

"I received FSM and so did two of my friends. We all got good GCSE and A level results, got places at good universities and got decent degrees."

Stevie Wonder's doing alright. Why are we wasting money on providing help for blind people? It's offensive to those that go on to become major recording stars.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 18:00:55

Oops meant surely they dont need that much for lunch, flaming ipad typing!

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 18:01:18

Unless they stopped CB then theres no way we could afford FSM for all

Yes we could.

Those that want to continue with packed lunches could easily do so, being available for free for all does not mean they would be compulsory.

I guess as a parent I would just find it a bit offensive that suddenly everyone was all over my child. If they noticed she needed extra support I would expect that to be given regardless of our home circumstances. And as long as she didnt need the support I'd rather it went to someone who did. One would hope that it would be noticed without a tick in a box.

What I mean is that a child should get the support if they need it , it shouldn't take something bad happening to the family to get the support.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 18:09:12

Exactly.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 18:12:01

Amberleaf, how would they be financed? Small primaries already have to subsidise to have hot meals for those that want them and the government are making cuts to current benefits so are very unlikely to introduce a new one.

Why should they be free for all anyway? Surely providing children with food is a basic parenting job. If parents cant or wont then SS should step in. If there was spare money it would be better spent on more teachers or hospital care not basics that a parent should be doing automatically anyway.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 18:18:24

They would be financed from the education/schools budget, which should IMO be made bigger not be cut.

Surely providing children with food is a basic parenting job

Yes, but when our children are at school the school is acting 'in loco parentis' which translates as 'in the place of a parent' which is why schools provide lunch facilities [its part of that duty]

If parents cant or wont then SS should step in

Can't and won't are two very different things.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 18:20:59

"Curlew - "Children eligible for FSM are as a cohort less likely to achieve their potential than children who aren't. That is a incontrovertible fact- all you have to do is look at the "narrowing the gap" section of your school's stats to see that. This isn't casting aspersions at your particular individual child- it doesn't say that applies to every child. Your child might be smashing through his targets and achieving like nobody's business. T most won't be. And putting provisions in place for children who are identified as a group as needing extra support is just practical common sense, surely."

And here is the reason why people get annoyed sweeping generalisations, as if there may only be one or two excpetions that prove the rule and in the main their is a link. Nonsense."

I don't understand. What's the problem with what I posted?

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 18:38:35

Schools do provide lunch already, it shouldnt be free to all. By your theory then they should provide the uniform, break time snack, prescriptions etc.

Its not rocket science to understand that having a child costs money, the more children the more it costs. You can then hardly moan about having to feed them or state its somebody elses responsibility. Yes circumstances can change which is where FSM steps in but many people limit their income by working hours, having a SAHP etc so why should more of their costs be met when they will already be getting a lot of state money anyway.

I'd love school budgets to be bigger so that they can replace items, take on more staff, have decent uptodate equipment, more hands on learning etc but it should never cover feeding children. Thats a parenting basic and they already get help from CB to assist with costs. Schools are there to educate and teachers there to teach, they are not acting parents in any shape or form.

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 18:45:46

Being on FSM doesn't make us all over your child. It just means that if there is an issue with your child underachieving then there is money available to help. So for example PP money employs an English and a Maths intervention teacher in our school. Some of the children that benefit from these teachers being employed are not on FSM, but without the PP money the teachers would not be there. PP money can also be used to lower the cost of school trips and we also used it to pay for re-sits for FSM children whereas others had to pay if they wanted to re-sit an exam paper. PP money is used by one local school to provide pupils on FSM with a free PE kit.

There is an argument to be had about the PP - I'd rather it was distributed in other ways, but this is what you get with Lib Dems. However, if your child is not underachieving they aren't going to be forced to have extra-tuition, and if they are not on FSM they aren't left to fend for themselves.

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 18:45:56

Breaktime fruit IS provided in KS1, and so is milk; the latter being partly paid for by European subsidy.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 18:47:55

Schools are there to educate. Agreed. To allow children to achieve their potential.

Children from poor/disadvantaged groups as a cohort are less likely to achieve their potential than other children. Which is why more support is provided for that group. I just don't see why that's controversial!

Feenie Fri 30-Aug-13 18:50:49

Me neither, curlew.

Spikeytree explained it very well, particularly in her last sentence.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 18:55:58

Neither do I curlew, if it wasnt the case then there would be no stats to back up the facts and pupil premium wouldnt be needed. There will be exceptions like with any other situations but they can only go with the majority.

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 18:56:25

they are not acting parents in any shape or form

Except they are.

As I said...'in loco parentis'

TheRealXkcdfangirl Fri 30-Aug-13 18:59:27

If your school is wise they won't be "targeting for help" or singling out your daughter, and ought to have a system where other children don't know she has FSM. There used to be luminous passes like LifeofPo describes but I think most schools have clicked that this isn't a good idea and have a more sensible system so you can keep your status private. We are in an area with a quite high area for FSMs and all the schools whose open-days we went to said the same: apply for the FSM so the school gets the extra money, even if you don't intend to use it. No-one knows whose meals are free, and mostly the pupil premium is used to give a boost to whichever pupils most need extra help, without reference to whether they are the FSM recipients themselves, because by so doing it raises the standards of the whole school in general, and the children with FSM individually too, far more than if the help was just targeted at those on FSM. The exception to this is that most schools do retain some of the pupil premium money to allow children on FSM to participate in trips and extracurricular activities without having to pay the extra.

Nerfmother Fri 30-Aug-13 19:17:27

Happy Mummy - FSM don't step in in a crisis actually, you or may not be eligible. We don't get cb at the moment, can't use that. What I am building on is other posters suggesting that the factors for eligibility for fsm omit lots of people and I personally think that free school meals for all would be a positive move for various reasons. That's all.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 30-Aug-13 19:28:07

Nerfmother

I totally agree and have seen a number of children who were neglected where packed lunches were concerned, the parents either ill educated as what constituted a healthy meal, with not enough food, or those not able to afford the lunch and not entitled to fsm.
Making it free for all would eradicate this, and that poor boy who starved to death springs to mind.

"Stevie Wonder's doing alright. Why are we wasting money on providing help for blind people? It's offensive to those that go on to become major recording stars"

Totally out of context friday16, as is quoting the first line of my post without the second, where I qualified my point that I got FSM but did well a school with the fact that I realised not everyone did.

I still stand by my point that children should be treated as individuals rather than stereotypes. With help there for those who need it, as and when that need arises.

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 19:33:49

That's generally what happens, Jemima. However, the only money available for this is PP money, which has to be accounted for. Hence we have to do an extra analysis on narrowing the gap children (this includes CLA etc as well as FSM).

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 19:36:54

I feel like it's wrong to pick a group of people (the unemployed and the poor, for example) and allocate money to support academic performance in schools based on that. I'd understand if it was about a subsidy to buy uniform, ditto fsm, help with costs to go on trips etc., because lack of money is a direct consequence of being poor/unemployed. Being poor doesn't, however, necessarily mean that you need extra tutoring. There might be a correlation with poverty and poor performance, but it is not a direct consequence. Poor academic performance in itself, on the other hand, is an excellent indicator of need for extra tutoring. Why not use that data?

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 19:40:28

Ask Nick Clegg, ToysRLuv. PP is a Lib Dem policy.

Boomba Fri 30-Aug-13 19:40:48

We get FSMs...no negative stigma. But there are alot of people in our school. One supply teacher stupidly asked my dd, why she hadnt paid for her dinners all term hmm

dd was very proud to say that the government paid for her dinners grin

all the other kids were awestruck....'will the government pay for my dinners miss?'

I spect the supply teacher was a bit blush

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 19:43:52

Spikey: it's nuts. I thought the lib dems were sane.

motownmover Fri 30-Aug-13 19:50:42

This pp is not good - have heard of nurseries trying to scramble for more disadvantaged kids while trying to reduce hours of those on mat leave.

I couldn't work it out but the person going on about it said it was due to PP.

I also don't think pupils should know who has FSM.

Nonie241419 Fri 30-Aug-13 19:54:53

I'm a primary teacher. When I do the dinner register, children just answer school dinners or sandwiches. When the register gets to the office, the administrator sorts out who is FSM and who pays. That info is only shared with me when we have to do data analysis, and is never shared with the children. In fact, if parents don't tell their own children that they are on FSM, even they wouldn't know.

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 19:55:25

Best laugh I've had all day, Toys. No friend of Nick here smile

Look, I've been the child on FSM. I understand that to individuals it feels insulting to be told your child is at a disadvantage because you are poor. Statistically, though, children who qualify for FSM do perform poorly in comparison to those who don't. Statistics do not tell the whole story though and that is clear. I bucked that trend, as do many others on this thread and elsewhere. It doesn't mean that the trend doesn't exist.

The reality is that any school worth its salt will be providing assistance for any child underachieving. The PP money is the funding that provides this assistance. In general I'm in favour of lots more money for schools that they can use where the need arises. In practice, PP money is generally used like that but school needs to show that they have used the money in a way that has had an impact on the performance of the students in the cohort it was intended for. Hence the extra column on exam analysis.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 20:07:18

Nerfmother, wil agree to disagree then. I think the state already pay enough to parents who dont provide or fully provide for the children they chose to have and shouldnt have to pay anymore to feed every child. FSM steps in where no adults in the house work so no income hence a "crisis" and CB is only not paid to earners over around £50k so FSM wouldnt even be a consideration for those people.

Do people really have children believing its their right and the state should pay for it all?

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 20:11:41

Yawn.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 20:12:45

I know the allocation of pp is probably a very discreet and logical process in many schools, but I know how it feels to be tarred with a very wide brush (e.g. have pnd and could use a couple of hours a week of respite child care - ergo you're thick, useless and need to be patronised), so would hate for that to happen to anyone. And it can happen - as long as we are all still human and prone to prejudices.

Boomba Fri 30-Aug-13 20:16:08

happymummyofone i understand what you are saying about taking responsibility for the children you have. But not everyone does take responsibility. Some kids are neglected and underfed. Wouldn't you rather a system that protected those children from malnutrition, regardless of the fecklessness of their parents?

motownmover Fri 30-Aug-13 20:16:59

I would hope the allocation of pp is discreet but I am not so sure it is.

"Do people really have children believing its their right and the state should pay for it all?"

Happymotherofone Do people really never consider that events change - people can go from rich to poor, parents alive to dead, why on earth don't people think that most parents want the absolute best for their children!!

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 20:18:10

If the school is doing that, Toys, then you have bigger problems than PP and I'd say it is time to find a new school.

As both a recipient of FSM and a teacher of 10 years experience I've never encountered any presumption that a child receiving FSM would be thick, nor have I seen them patronised. If I had a child at a school that acted like this I would remove them whether they were eligible for FSM or not.

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 20:18:13

Yep, they do! We walk three miles to school and back. And they're both skinny minnies! If they don't have a good lunch they don't make it back home ok.

And obviously, i'm talking about reasonable child sized portions, not adult sized ones!

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 20:22:10

And, i'd like to point out that aside from the time off raising the kids, i've worked from the age of 13 to 36, without ever claiming anything. I don't think that, now i've fallen on hard times, although still working, it's too much to ask for some hopefully temporary aid, is it?

We went from a dual income of 80K, to a lone income of 45K, while I raised the kids for f ew years, to a dual income of about 14K. No fault of ours, jobs lay off.

Let's hope it doesn't happen to those people who moralise about not having kids unless you can afford them.

motownmover Fri 30-Aug-13 20:25:13

Sheridand good luck and I hope your income rises again soon.

I really think the people who go on about their taxes and benefits are so often people that are well off and I just don't get it.

I would never begrudge help to those who need it.

I think there are some really bitter people out there who have no idea.

sheridand Fri 30-Aug-13 20:27:38

Thanks! tbh, it's been a mare as the system goes on your last years earnings, so we are twiddling our thumbs waiting...........

At least we have something coming in though, and luckily our mortgage is small, as we downsized so I could be a SAHM. Dread to think what would have happened if it was big.

I feel lucky to have anything in my local area, it is very high in unemployment.

TwasBrillig Fri 30-Aug-13 20:30:59

I've just realised we fall into this category. I'd not really thought about taking it up (we currently havesome savings to fall back on and low ish overheads) I had always assumed I'd choose what my daughter had in her lunchbox.

I certainly don't want her labelled as part of a group of under achievers :-( we're both graduates (one of us oxbridge) and so far our daughter seems fairly bright. She's about to start reception and I don't want our lack of financial status clouding any judgement.

My husband was made redundand a couple of months ago and its a whole new world to me though. We live in a fairly low income estate mainly and I guess it does bother me that we live in an ex council place etc etc when most of her friends have space to invite friends back, own bedrooms etc.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 30-Aug-13 20:35:38

" Do people really never consider that events change - people can go from rich to poor, parents alive to dead, why on earth don't people think that most parents want the absolute best for their children!!"

Of course events can change and thats why we have a generous benefit system and FSM. The debate was about the state paying for ALL childrens lunches as the school is acting parent as somebody suggested people petition for. Sheer madness, if a parent doesnt want to feed their child then its SS who should step in.

Most parents do want the absolute best but not all. Many can change their own household but either bleat on about "entitlements" or simply dont wish to work more than a few hours or work at all. If the pupil premium helps schools change the mindset and outcomes of these children then the policy has done its job.

Boomba Fri 30-Aug-13 20:38:31

Sheer madness, if a parent doesnt want to feed their child then its SS who should step in

and in the meantime, who should feed the child?

My children get free school meals at the minute.

There is a 'poor queue' at the secondary, for free uniform. Our borough offers a clothing grant to all children who receive free school meals- which helps a lot and I really appreciate it, as at the present time, there is nothing we can do to increase our income as we're in receipt of benefits due to my dh's ill health. We'd swap in a heartbeat, those free school meals, for my dh to be able to do what he could a few years ago (like walk upstairs without falling or put your own shoes on... just those little things everyone takes for granted).

The secondary school have a uniform shop, only place to get the logo'ed uniform. We got it last year- but then dh couldn't get inside, too big a step for his wheelchair to climb and he didn't want to go in anyway 'cause it's mind numbingly boring getting uniform or something like that. After queuing a bit with everyone else when you get to the front you have to leave to join another queue, which was beyond the barrier, so cut off from the rest, to get the free uniform and vouchers. Dh wasn't happy with that arrangement. It was a little bit uncomfortable, little bit embarrassing. I'm not sure what they could have done otherwise though, it's not as if there were signs.

The secondary are cashless, they have the money 'on their finger'. So no one knows.

JakeBullet Fri 30-Aug-13 20:45:44

I think FSM have little stigma now...does anyone actually KNOW beyond the office staff?

There has been an argument FOR universal FSM to ensure children get a good lunch rather than some of the rubbish in lunch boxrs.

I don't think we need universal FSM...just more education about lunch box food.

Then again some of the school meals leave something to be desired.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 20:49:38

I'm a bit clueless about this, but can you actually leave a state school if you're not happy with it and go to another school, or would you have to home school? And if you can change schools, would you be on file as a "troublemaker"?

TwasBrillig Fri 30-Aug-13 20:51:57

I'm now wondering if I should fill the form in to get the premium for school but still send a packed lunch in. I hope it will just be short term so will it make any difference to the school if its just a couple of months?

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 20:51:58

Honestly, schools do not label children eligible for FSM as underachievers. We see individuals. My highest scored GCSE pupil this year was eligible for FSM. She got 100 per cent on all four papers.

Similarly, having wealthy parents does not necessarily mean the child will have great support. The biggest underachiever I've ever known was the son of a two doctors. His HOY spent hours over the last year chasing him around the woods near school as he thought spending lesson time smoking weed was more important than actually attending lessons. His parents failed to attend any child action meetings held.

If you are eligible for FSM do not feel put off claiming them because of what you fear the school will think of you. We aren't thinking that you are shiftless or neglectful. Some of us were that child who had the FSM.

Spikeytree Fri 30-Aug-13 20:55:52

Toys, course you can leave a school if you are unhappy, you just need to find another with a space. You won't be labelled a troublemaker, you don't have to tell the new school why you are leaving if you don't want to. Honestly, if you are unhappy with the school, change. Despite what the government wants you to believe there are lots and lots of good schools out there with compassionate people working in them who got into education because they care.

ToysRLuv Fri 30-Aug-13 20:57:43

It's not an issue for me, thank goodness, but just wanted to know.

curlew Fri 30-Aug-13 22:54:16

You know that feeling when you think you must be speaking a foreign language??

"I feel like it's wrong to pick a group of people (the unemployed and the poor, for example) and allocate money to support academic performance in schools based on that"

Which bit of "statistically, children from poor/disadvantaged backgrounds do not achieve as well as children who are not from poor/disadvantaged backgrounds" don't you understand? It's not an assumption, or a judgement, or snobbery or anything - it's a fact!!!!! And schools with a lot of children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds get more money to try and compensate. Why is that controversial?

AmberLeaf Fri 30-Aug-13 23:06:47

curlew. If 'they' did nothing to bridge the gap so to speak, people would complain about that too.

My children get FSMs, I did too for a time.

Whatever help is allocated on the basis of the fact that statistically some children in these circs don't do as well is a good thing, I don't take offence at it at all, I understand why it is done.

I don't know why some find this a problem?

My children are doing ok and I take an active role in their education, we have 100s of books in our home. I have never felt judged nor have my children been treated unfavourably because of their FSM status.

I know there are children who need the help more and It's good that they get it. I think it is beneficial to all the pupils too.

As I said earlier on the thread, I think worries about stigma lie more in the way the worrier feels about what it means to be on FSMs.

I have never felt ashamed and neither have my children.

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 08:07:33

Twasbrillig yes it will make a financial difference for 6 years of education

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 08:19:57

Can I just say that students are judged individually on their academic effort and performance, they will be judged an under achiever only if they don't fulfil their potential

There is some confusion on this thread re the aggregate, statistical analysis of groups of students and individuals. A student is assessed individually on their behaviour, effort and achievements and that is what parents should be concerned about, the school and dfe report on aggregates and of course we have to identify by groups - social deprivation, ethnicity, gender, sen to ensure we serve all students adequately to their needs. And if there is a difference we need to put more resources in to support because being poor or of a specific gender or ethnicity etc should make no difference.

And the only thing I have ever judged a parent for whilst working at a school is having to pull them away from beating hell out of their child on school premises and getting backhanded in the process.

ReallyTired England Sat 31-Aug-13 08:27:40

Thirty years ago kids on free school dinners were treated like absolute shit. (Ie. they had to stand in a seperate dinner school at my infant school.) However 30 years ago schools also had the cane and no one cared if children learnt nothing. Thank gawd the world has moved on.

It is well known that povety can affect academic achievement and this is why the pupil premimum has been introduced to stop poor children from losing out. There is some tracking of the achievment of children on fsm to stop the pupil premimum from being wasted.

I suggest you claim the fsm as not even your child would know unless you tell them.

TwasBrillig Sat 31-Aug-13 09:10:01

Bound -not sure I follow - if we're only on jobseekers for a few months, and so only eligible for fsm for a few months surely the school only gets the premium for those few months? That was the context in which I was asking whether it was worth me signing up to give the school the premium.

Would it follow my child for six years as she would have been marked as fsm on entry?

SubliminalMassaging Sat 31-Aug-13 09:13:05

They don't make them wear a sandwich board saying Free School Meals Kid' or sew a yellow star on their uniform or anything. confused

aftermay Sat 31-Aug-13 09:14:03

Sorry, I haven't read all the thread. IME so far neither of my 3 kids has ever discussed who gets of doesn't FSM. They've been at 5 schools between them so far, all relatively well off areas (but you never know). Please don't worry about it, use it if you have to.

Nectar Sat 31-Aug-13 10:23:30

I don't see why children need to be aware of who has free school meals and who doesn't, when it can so easily be avoided. At our school, parents put a dinner money envelope in a box in school office at beginning of the week. Each lunchtime there is a hot dinner register and a packed lunch register, so all the children know what they're doing.

ALL hot dinner children are included on that register, whether their parents pay or have free meals, so they're not treated any different.

Much better than the system my old primary used to have, where Free School Meal children had to go up to food counter with a token. Such a shame they were made to stand out in that waysad

SubliminalMassaging Sat 31-Aug-13 10:37:37

So many people do not even pay by cash these days, but put a cheque in at the beginning of each half term, straight to the office or whatever, that I see no real likelihood of the children being aware of who is or isn't paying for what.

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 10:40:42

Twasbrillig

The finances work so that any child who has been on free school meals for a period (I think over a census date) within the last 6 years means the school gets an additional pupil premium funding

So they might have been FSM in year 4 and not since and the secondary school will get PP funding through to year 9 to help support programmes for all FSM children

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 10:43:37

"The pupil premium was introduced in April 2011 and is allocated to schools to work with pupils who have been registered for free school meals at any point in the last six years (known as ‘Ever 6 FSM’).

Schools also receive funding for children who have been looked after continuously for more than six months, and children of service personnel."

TwasBrillig Sat 31-Aug-13 10:45:53

Ah thanks Bound, that makes sense. I'll see if I can register once term starts but say I don't want the meals. If the school gets money for six years that's worth it!

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 10:48:28

Absolutely we write to parents every year asking them to register if they possibly can because of the PP but it is their decision whether they send in packed lunch (I don't see why you would bother but then our catering is pretty good and we also have salad and sandwich bars)

TwasBrillig Sat 31-Aug-13 10:56:11

She's going into reception of an infant school. Some people have a cooked lunch and its taxied across from another school with kitchens and reheated (yeuk). There are very few in reception who have cooked I believe so would rather she sat with her new classmates. I'd feel different if cooked meals were the norm.

As an aside, given that money is there as a result to help the children, and the work is being put in to close the gaps, why is the % of kids on FSM still included on ofsted reports. If schools are developing systems (mostly) to ensure that the kids can't be told apart from those who aren't, and are doing their best to persuade parents to take them up, how are parents meant to not see it as a negative point if its there in black and white that the numbers are above average or whatever.

I don't see it as a negative. I do think that the support should be there regardless for ALL the kids as you don't have to be poor to be unsupported in the education or neglected emotionally (can't be helped sometimes with working situations). But none of that is included. Just seems that it creates the negative view by being put on the reports.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 11:36:58

I just don't think it helps to "bridge the gap" when you the government officially talks about a fairly random group of people, who happen to be in the same financial situation at any given time period, as if they were completely uniform, however strong the correlations. Therein lies the danger of stereotyping and labelling. Would it not be more cost-effective to allocate more money to schools where academic performance levels are low? Also, schools should be able to secure funding for extra tutoring of individual children in need. Surely, that would be the logical way to proceed?

The PP would be helpful, if it was there solely to provide uniforms, money for clubs and trips, etc. Those are the things that all poor children would benefit from.

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 13:25:51

But the point of the pupil premium is that its used to fund programmes on a local school level based on need so yes it can be used for breakfast clubs and trips and uniform but also to fund specialist counselling services, outreach, educational materials and packages etc

Those who grow up in areas of mass generational social deprivation have far more challenges than clubs, trips and uniform unfortunately, it is naive to believe there's an even playing field if you just provide the obvious

Pupil premium is decided on a governmental level but the usage of the funds is decided at grass roots on a school by school level

It's not perfect but I don't see how it could be improved

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 13:48:05

I think it's strange to lump together all the poor/unemployed (whether temporary or long term) and assume that they are disadvantaged and in need of counselling, outreach, and the like. When, in fact, they might just need a bit of help with buying an uniform and money for a school trip until dad or mum gets a new job. If extra help is needed in schools in particularly deprived areas, then surely that is going to be shown by the low level of academic achievement, absence levels, etc. So, surely we should look at those as indicators for need of extra education and outreach funding. As well providing funding for individual children in need, whether "disadvantaged", in the way the current government sees it, or not.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 13:49:01

"As well AS", that should be, of course.

GreetingsFrontBottom Sat 31-Aug-13 13:51:04

When I was growing up (in a very poor part of town), I used to think that the kids on 'Free School Dinners' actually got 'Three School Dinners'. I always saw them as privileged compared to me only having one. Until that is, my mum lost her job and I joined them...

HappyMummyOfOne Sat 31-Aug-13 14:27:22

The finding is meant to bridge the gap in results, handing out uniform or paying for trips wont do that. CB can pay for uniform and trips cn be paid for in instalments. Its not a great deal of money per child (used to be £200 but now around £400) and unless a high percentage are on FSM it likely not to even cover a TA's salary or two.

I do think it should be included in Ofsted as parents want a clear view of the school and its results. You cant get a clear view of the teaching standards and results without all the data. It also has to be clearly shown how they have spent the money on the school wbsite etc so that parents and ofsted etc can see.

I do agree with toys to an extent. Being poor and the challenges that go with that, yes of course that would inhibit children to reach their full potential. But there are challenges that children face who aren't in that group. Those children who's parents work or on a high income. Having to be dropped off here there and everywhere to people looking after them. That can't be helped either. Those who spend their time split between separate parents. They may not be hungry or cold , but can their grandma help them with their homework? Did yey leave their books at their mums? does dd want to spend the only two days he gets with his kids doing school work? Has their friend with four kids of her own got time to hear them read. What about the nanny stuck in traffic and picked them up late so everything's a rush and that project gets forgotten. The rush, the confusion, erratic meal times etc can all impact in a child's performance in class and all are problems faced by everyone. (Ok not the nanny bit but you see the point I hope)

What I mean is I'm sure that even the richest kids have plenty stacked against them. Ok some may be able to afford tutors but not all.

In all honesty I expect there are very few children who don't have obstacles to overcome. To narrow it down to those on FSM just seems odd. Not saying that they shouldn't get the help just that its naive to think that other kids don't have problems and could use the extra observations and support just as much.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 15:42:19

The fact remains that, while all groups obviously face their challenges, children from poor/disadvantaged backgrounds statistically do worse than other groups. That is an incontrovertible fact. Proven over andnovernagain in cohort studies. So it doesn't matter people say it's strange, or unfair or wrong or whatever to focus a little help on those prticular children, the fact remains that it makes a significant difference to their outcomes.

The children who are in that cohort but who are streaking ahead aren't going to be offered extra lessons- but the ones that aren't are, and they benefit hugely from them. How is this even remotely controversial?

burberryqueen Sat 31-Aug-13 15:54:43

i dont think my children were 'disadvantaged' when i claimed for FSM, they had been read to endlessly, had a choice of books and drawing/writing equipment, and had travelled across Europe and had some knowledge of other languages/cultures. Which is a lot more than some other, financially better off childdren had, in my observation.
so the assumption that FSM = disadvantaged pisses me right off.

I'm not saying its controversial. But I just don't understand how all that stands between two children getting the extra support so desperately needed, who are equally struggling , both who's families can't afford heating or food or clothes, is a FSM.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 16:11:03

No, your child wasn't disadvantaged.

But many are. And they do not achieve their potential. I just can't understand why you don't want those children to get the help they need. You children don't. Wonderful. Why stand in other children's way because you get bent out of shape but the very suggestion that yours might be......gasp.... whisper......^disqdvantqged^?

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 16:12:22

"so the assumption that FSM = disadvantaged pisses me right off."

No one is saying that there's a strict equality. The claim is that recipients of FSM are disproportionately likely to be disadvantaged. That is absolutely incontrovertible. Pointing to exceptions does not disprove correlations, as no-one is claiming that the correlation is perfect.

simpson England Sat 31-Aug-13 16:25:14

Both my DC get FSM and I don't think they even realise that I don't pay as its all done through the office staff.

Another one who gets pissed off with FSM = disadvantaged.

Both my DC read loads and I am very involved with their education and both DC are doing well at school.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 16:28:21

"Another one who gets pissed off with FSM = disadvantaged.

Both my DC read loads and I am very involved with their education and both DC are doing well at school."

Good. So they won't need any extra help. Fantastic. The school can get on with helping those that do. Who are disproportionately represented among the cohort that are eligible for FSM. What is so difficult about this????????

simpson England Sat 31-Aug-13 16:46:02

Nothing is difficult about it at all confused I never said it was...

However, why should my children automatically be at a disadvantage because they get FSM?

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 16:46:43

curlew: It is an unnecessary, if founded in statistics, assumption/connection to make. There are many more efficient ways of distributing money for education directly to the ones in need. Officially making the connection that everyone in a tight financial situation at any given, even short, period of time, is disadvantaged and needs extra tutoring etc. is only bound to strengthen the societal discourse of benefit bashing, which helps nobody (those who want to take unfair advantage of the benefits given to the unemployed etc. won't care, and those who already feel ashamed about being poor will feel even worse through the assumption that their children are now officially and automatically classed as disadvantaged in a multitude of ways, i.e. not only monetary).

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 16:54:04

I assume, curlew, that the people who think it's wrong to use the correlation between FSM and other forms of disadvantage as a means of targeting interventions would also argue strongly against any form of intervention to improve the career and educational opportunities of young single mothers. After all, JK Rowling has done alright for herself.

In other news, my grandfather smoked eighty a day and lived to be ninety, so all that stuff about cigarettes being bad for you is wrong.

JakeBullet Sat 31-Aug-13 16:54:05

Okay, my son is entitled to FSM, I claim for them but send him in with a packed lunch.

Is he disadvantaged?

Well the reason he is entitled to FSM is that I currently don't work. I don't work as he is autistic and needs me around. So you could argue that he IS disadvantaged and despite being read to from almost birth has struggled.

I am glad that there is system FOR increasing the amount of money targeted to children on FSM, they CAN be at more disadvantage.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 16:56:01

"There are many more efficient ways of distributing money for education directly to the ones in need. "

So tell us a few of them. Focus on "efficient", too, given that targeting based on FSM is a very cheap way (requires no extra data gathering) of doing substantially better than random.

"

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 17:01:42

Schools' academic results, (unauthorised) absence levels, etc. Shouldn't be hard and makes total sense.

Also there should be funding easily available for individual children in clear need, as applied by schools whether they get fsm or not.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 17:01:48

"However, why should my children automatically be at a disadvantage because they get FSM?"

They aren't. I'm presuming that, because you are posting about it that you don't think they are. So good. They don't need any extra help.

But a lot are.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 17:05:17

"Schools' academic results, (unauthorised) absence levels, etc. Shouldn't be hard and makes total sense."

But statistically, children who are entitled to FSM do worse than those hat don't. This is incontrovertible, proved time and time again. Before you post again, have a look at your school's league tables. Look at the "narrowing the gap" figures.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 17:05:49

confused

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 17:06:50

Why the hmm?

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 17:11:31

Because I think I'm talking oranges and you're talking apples. It doesn't matter if the current system is effective if another system could potentially be at least as effective without the added negative labels. To me this makes sense.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 17:17:01

Right.

Poverty is the single most accurate indicator of academic under achivevment.

How are you going to identify poor children? Check their shoes while they are doing PE and male a list of Clarks/Tesco/Primark? Check lunchboxes? Waitrose/Tesco/Iceland?

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 17:19:27

Academic underachievement is an even better indicator of academic underachievement. At least I would think so.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 17:42:32

That's not how it works. But hey ho. I tried. Please will someone else try to explain? I'm obviously getting it wrong.

It's the definition of poverty that's wrong. There are areas of towns that are judged as being the poverty areas and that may be true. But the rest is hidden. You wouldn't have looked at my family when I was a kid but we had no money. We had food and looking at our m&s and JL clothes and uniform we wouldn't have been on the radar. But if I was to tell you the only reason our clothes came from there was because my parents could use a store card and therefore make minimum payments which were cheaper than clothes anywhere else and they couldn't afford to buy clothes for us otherwise. A relative paid for my bed. There are hundreds of kids in all areas of a town where money is sooooo tight the parents barely eat because dad was made redundant and they are coping off one wage and falling behind and are tied into rental agreements or mortgages etc.

What I mean is there will be children living in poverty who don't appear that way. I think by focussing on the obvious ones that others are sadly being over looked. Looking at one aspect (a tick in a box on a register) is causing other children in need to be over looked and that needs addressing.

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 17:51:56

Curlew you're doing fine, some people don't get / believe in the validity of statistical correlations on a macro level leading to grassroots intervention by those who understand their student body's needs

I also don't really understand why not but its an opinion that they are allowed to have even if its wrong wink

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 17:54:15

Yes there is poverty beyond the narrow confines of the FSM qualification - that is absolutely and heartbreakingly true

HappyMummyOfOne Sat 31-Aug-13 17:55:51

FSM data is cheap and easy to obtain and given it works in showing those students likely to be less succesful why should the system be overhauled? Why go to the extra cost and change something that works putting even more work on schools?

Its not just about lack of money but lack of aspirations, work ethic, parental input etc. If all of these are seen in the majority of FSM data then its obviously the best one to use. There will always be some children who reach their targets or exceed when on FSM but the majority wont and thats where the focus will be to try and "narrow the gap" as much as possible.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 18:04:29

I don't think looking at other readily available data instead the fsm would be more expensive. It just seems such an unnecessarily blunt instrument, and like I said, adds and gives official validity to the discourse of benefit bashing. But I can agree to disagree. Apples and oranges..

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 18:09:20

And I think what the fsm pp automatic link does is embellish and highlight the "gap" instead of narrowing it. It would be narrowed by removing such a link, which suggests automatic academic disadvantage. Which is not to say that funding should not be available for tutoring etc. should it be needed.

MamaTo3Boys Sat 31-Aug-13 18:22:59

My children get free school meals and no one thinks of then or myself any differently.

I also went through primary and secondary school on free school meals and no one ever said anything. We used to get an orange ticket to hand in at the till. It might have changed now though, it was 10 years ago that I was in school x

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 18:32:13

And I think what the fsm pp automatic link does is embellish and highlight the "gap" instead of narrowing it. It would be narrowed by removing such a link [citation needed]

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 18:34:59

And I think what the fsm pp automatic link does is embellish and highlight the "gap" instead of narrowing it. It would be narrowed by removing such a link, which suggests automatic academic disadvantage. Which is not to say that funding should not be available for tutoring etc. should it be needed.

This makes absolutely no sense, please explain

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 18:37:44

It's my own thinking, friday, and it is very logical don't you think? I'm sure I'd find a similar citation from a (another) great thinker should I care to..

lljkk Netherlands Sat 31-Aug-13 18:39:49

I worked as dinner lady for 6 months and I never knew who was on FSM for sure. Eventually because of MN threads I worked out a handful of the kids who must be FSM, most others I couldn't be sure about. None of DC even know the phrase "free school meals."

I can also think of a few who should have been FSM, probably, but weren't.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 18:47:40

It means what it says. To officially indicate that being eligible for fsm is to be academically disadvantaged, IMO adds (even if unintentionally) to the stereotype of the "stupid unemployed living off the state with no educational aspirations", and similar discourses, which further widen the gap between the employed and unemployed and the poor vs. the well off. Unless you think these assumptions are correct for this diverse group of people, it's unfair and stigmatising to the ones not fitting the stereotype. It is also one of the reasons why people could be put off applying for fsm.

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 19:01:09

FSM is an incomplete indicator of poverty and disadvantage, that is a given but it is the best we have

In 2011 57.9% of students getting FSM acheived level 4 or above in English and maths, 20 percentage points less than those not receiving FSM (77.9%)

In 2012 65.7% of students getting FSM acheived level 4 or above, almost 17% below the equivalent non FSM group (82.5)

There are other groups worth looking at gender and ethnicity but the most marked difference is those who are economically disadvantaged

It doesn't mean if you get FSM you'll fail, just that economic disadvantage should be addressed academically to ensure students reach their potential.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 19:04:28

"It's my own thinking, friday, and it is very logical don't you think?"

No. Your claim appears to be that if we stopped analysing for sub-populations that are disadvantaged, then that disadvantage would cease. That's completely illogical.

But given the improvement is based on incomplete information couldn't that then lead to a false sense of security.

That the gap is closing whereas in fact it only appears to be doing so because the amount of pupils in disadvantaged situations who don't qualify is getting greater therefore lowering class averages.

I'm not sure I've explained that very well but I hope you can figure out what I mean.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:15:06

I guess what I'm getting at is, why can't the actual academic results of schools and (at school level) individuals be looked at instead of assuming and guessing (however good the indicators)? The data is already there and not that hard to analyse. The unwillingness of the government to do that almost seems like a wilful act of trying to "shame" the poor. I know that the current system might well be discreet and practical (with absolutely no shame attached) in the vast majority of schools, but the mere existence of this set-up sits badly with me. The reason why the government won't do targeted measures based on ethnicity, even if they could be well founded, is due to the fear of being perceived as racist. Well, I see this current set-up being a bit "poorist".

ReallyTired England Sat 31-Aug-13 19:16:57

It is possible for a child to underachieve without being on the bottom table. Often children on fsm are very bright. In fact children on fsm in super selective grammars get the pp. (Ie. help with paying for the geography field trip or materials needed for CDT)

Different children have different needs which is why schools have freedom in how the spend the pp. The pp is designed to help where poverty is a barrier to learning.

Families that have claimed means tested income support have very little in the way of assets. Unemployment can quickly bring a family to its knees. I am not sure that 6 years of pp is justified though. It is possible for a family to go from being on income support to being a high rate tax payer in four years. Help should only be provided if needed.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 19:18:56

"What I mean is there will be children living in poverty who don't appear that way. I think by focussing on the obvious ones that others are sadly being over looked. Looking at one aspect (a tick in a box on a register) is causing other children in need to be over looked and that needs addressing."

But focussing on the easily and cheaply identifiable groups attracts the pupil premium to a school, which is good for everyone.

The reason why the government won't do targeted measures based on ethnicity, even if they could be well founded, is due to the fear of being perceived as racist. Well, I see this current set-up being a bit "poorist".

^^ this I agree with. Under no other circumstances no matter how true they were, would such sweeping generalisations be acceptable. In fact MN is usually do dead against generalisations even when it's proven.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 19:20:18

"guess what I'm getting at is, why can't the actual academic results of schools and (at school level) individuals be looked at instead of assuming and guessing (however good the indicators)? The data is already there and not that hard to analyse"

But doesn't that mean that the kids have to have already failed before they are identified?

BoundandRebound Sat 31-Aug-13 19:21:32

I find your analysis bizarre. Data must be aggregated to develop national policy but the practical implemented is at a grass roots level, so it is abut individuals. Nobody says if you are FSM eligible your child will fail, just that we must do better by students who are economically disadvantaged as the data shows us that fewer of them succeed academically. We need to do our utmost to level the playing field.

We also look at SEN vs non SEN, ethnicity and gender

But as you say apples and oranges.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:22:54

Friday: That's not what I said. The government can analyse away, but should keep in mind that any links like these will be seen as statements and truths by some, if not by many or most. How the government presents measures matters to the larger picture and in the long term.

Of course attracting the PP is good for everyone. But the fact it's good doesnt excuse the other groups left out. It should t be acceptable that those kids are left out. Especially as you can have two children both suffering in exactly the same way and only one qualifies for the meal and the support.

Shouldn't

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 19:29:54

"The reason why the government won't do targeted measures based on ethnicity, even if they could be well founded, is due to the fear of being perceived as racist. Well, I see this current set-up being a bit "poorist"."

But there are programmes directed towards black boys - another group that significantly underachieves. Or shouldn't that happen either because not all black boys under achieve?

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:29:56

Curlew: I'd like to think that failing children should be identified as early as possible and given the help they needed, whether they receive fsm or not. Nothing needs to be done if a child is not failing. Assumptions and predictions are unnecessary and can even become self-fulfilling prophecies if the child on fsm is aware of the fsm -pp link and/or tge poverty=stupidity discourses.

stephrick Sat 31-Aug-13 19:31:11

I'm a school dinner lady, our system is set up so nobody knows who is FSM apart from us. It is a fingerprint system and £2.10 is deposited into their account daily. My children were on FSM for 2 years and benefited from reduced fees for trips also. Mine never felt inferior, many children are on FSM, at my school I would say 25%. It also enables pupils that receive FSM a bursary and free bus pass when in further education. note to curlew, my DD is off to Cardiff Uni in 3 weeks to study English and Philosophy.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:31:15

Are there, curlew? I'm surprised. I wonder how black people feel about that.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 19:32:45

"poverty=stupidity "

Where did that come from?

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:35:58

However, I accept that I'm a bit of an idealist and a liberal humanist with socialist leanings to boot, so if I could set the school system up from scratch it would look very different.. <breaks into tuneless song: "imagine there's no heaven..">

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 19:36:08

"Are there, curlew? I'm surprised. I wonder how black people feel about that"

Why would they think anything but that the education system is trying to fix a situation where something has gone wrong? Like girls underachieving in maths- boys in literacy......were you not aware of all these interventions?

ReallyTired England Sat 31-Aug-13 19:38:04

Schools do track the affect that different ethnity, gender, social class has on achievement. However there would be a huge outcry if (white working class) boys were given extra funding to help close the gap.

I believe that pp is fair and helps all the children in the class. It means that teachers can be more imaginative with school trips.

"Especially as you can have two children both suffering in exactly the same way and only one qualifies for the meal and the support."

The fact that some families are better off on benefits than working is a seperate issue. Some children suffer because their parents are crap at budgeting rather than because their parents have a low income. Should this really be a problem of the state?

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:39:55

That was a short-cut for a relevant aspect of the benefit bashing discourse.

ReallyTired England Sat 31-Aug-13 19:42:39

"poverty=stupidity "

Nah! You can underachieve without being a total failure.

A child on fsm may need extra encouragement to apply to university Oxbridge or consider a career in medicine rather than being a care assistant.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:44:54

Yes, curlew, I am. Ds is still at pre-school. I would be weirded out to be told that ds is disadvantaged just for being a boy, so he will automatically be allocated extra funds for tutoring, counselling, etc. He might be disadvantaged, but, equally, he might not be. I don't want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why label?

By"exactly the same way" I mean a working family struggling to make ends meet or finding it impossible after all the cuts and the fuel and food cost rises. And a family on benefits also struggling to feed and clothe the children.

And a parents inability to budget is not the child's fault. Any more than it would be the child's fault If he had a deadbeat parent who spent the last tenner of the benefits on fags and booze than heating or food. The difference is there's someone to help out the latter child.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 19:45:08

Well, if you think that "not achieving potential" and "stupidity" are synonyms, then I think I'm beginning to see where the the communication problem lies........

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:46:01

Yes, I am unaware, that is..

stephrick Sat 31-Aug-13 19:49:39

My DS who is no longer on FSM requires no extra encouragement, he aware of his own capabilities. Maybe you assume that children of a low income have no support. I agree that some might not give a s**t, but that does not happen in my home. I am a single parent sending a DD to Uni in 3 weeks, as will my DS in 3 years time.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 19:52:09

I don't benefit bash or subscribe to the relevant negative discourses, although there are plenty who do, I'm just bringing this stuff up as something to think about when singling out groups and making assumptions/predictions. I can see the nuances between underachieving and "stupid", but I bet not all will (nor will they necessarily want to).

spanieleyes Sat 31-Aug-13 20:02:10

Those on free school meals who need additional support will receive it.
Those on free school meals who don't need additional support won't receive it.
Those not on free school meals who need additional support will receive it.
Those not on free school meals who don't need additional support won't receive it.

But the facts are that there are ( percentage wise) more children on FSM who need support than children not on FSM. Which is why additional funds are provided.

ReallyTired England Sat 31-Aug-13 20:32:40

stephrick
If you had £500 to improve the education of your children how would you spend it?

Every child is an individual. It may well be that one child needs one to one tutition to learn to read, another child needs councelling, another child would benefit from a gifted maths summer school, another child would benefit from swimming lessons ... guitar .. . ad nauseum.

Prehaps parents should fill out a questionaire so that their views on how the money can be best spent is taken into consideration. However teachers should keep the final say on how the pp is spent.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 20:39:55

Quite, curlew. Aside from Toys' relentless use of the word "discourse", which tells you that academia is not far away, their whole argument smacks of an academic enthusiasm for "rational" solutions that they can get a paper out of ahead of pragmatic solutions that work.

Using FSM to target PP is a broadbrush solution, and no-one is denying that. However, it has the advantage of delivering resources ahead of the problems, rather than - as you point out - afterwards. Dealing with academic failure is massively, massively more expensive than stopping it from happening in the first place, and if the effect of tying PP to FSM is to splurge resources to those that don't actually need it, then unless that splurging is factors of three or more it's still much cheaper than allowing problems to develop and then trying to fix them.

Identifying "academic underperformance" or whatever their phrase is will be very hard. It means more testing, more reporting, more standardised assessment. It means nuanced judgements about expectations, and it's almost inevitable that such a system will only deliver resources long after the problems have become embedded. For children not in receipt of FSM who fall behind there are other mechanisms, (SA, SA+, Statements, IEPs, etc, etc, etc) and in some cases resources follow those interventions. But it's too late.

PP is a noble attempt to take money from the leafy suburbs and pump it into schools that can make a difference. If people don't like it, the onus is on them to show why their proposal is better. And vague wittering about "discourses" and, I suspect, "narratives" isn't good enough.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 20:45:15

Toys, on this page:

poverty=stupidity discourses

benefit bashing discourse.

relevant negative discourses

Is it some sort of sociology tic?

CorrinaKedavra Sat 31-Aug-13 20:48:39

"Those on free school meals who need additional support will receive it.
Those on free school meals who don't need additional support won't receive it.
Those not on free school meals who need additional support will receive it.
Those not on free school meals who don't need additional support won't receive it"

That's how I have always assumed pupil premium worked.

So as long as free meals are administered sensitively the child is not singled out in any way.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 20:53:53

Ok. Why change anything? A square peg in the round hole sort of fits after a lot of ramming. Never mind the hole getting completely buggered long term. So, what do you do to prevent fsm children from failing? Do you give them extra homework just in case? Do teachers not react to changes in individual children's performance early enough to make a difference, anyway? Or are non-fsm children
"allowed" to fail, because they are not on the "predictions list"?

The fact that I use certain, very valid, wordings is irrelevant. Yes, let's take the piss. What do those pesky academics know about the "real world"? grin It's not like the advisors they use in the government are.. well.. academics? Not that they are always listened to, from the looks of it.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 20:55:41

friday: It is the right word for it. I suspect you wouldn't like any synonyms either.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 21:33:16

Toys, it's jargon. It has specific meanings in specific fields, and means very little outside those fields. Sociologists think that using Foucault's concept of "enonces" (even more pretentious with the accents, I think) makes them sound fashionably French. Linguists, who got there first, then get pissed off because they can't do discourse analysis without people thinking they've come over all post-structuralist. If you can't get your idea over without repeatedly using jargon specific to your field, you should perhaps try look more closely at your lexis.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 21:34:38

Wow, you win, friday! grin

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 21:37:23

I like enonces too. <walks around all poncy like>

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 21:57:02

So, what do you do to prevent fsm children from failing? Do you give them extra homework just in case?Do teachers not react to changes in individual children's performance early enough to make a difference, anyway? Or are non-fsm children
"allowed" to fail, because they are not on the "predictions list"?

Apart from anything else, schools and teachers are measured, among other things, by how much progress the children make. So no, children are not "allowed to fail" because they are not on the predictions list. But children who are more at risk of failing for whatever reason, need to have measures put in place to support them. I just cannot begin to understand why this is considered a bad thing.

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 22:00:26

Or are you saying that we should wait until year 2, say, when they do their first SATs tests and say "oh, some of the children seem to be not doing as well as the others, I wonder why that is, and what we should do about it".......

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 22:21:10

I would be rather worried if the SATs really were the first opportunity for teachers to see if a child's academic performance was beginning to fall. I would think that assignments/homework, other exams, general attitude in class, rising number of unexplained/authorised absences would also be good indicators of a downwards slope.

I would like to think that any measures taken with a fsm receiving child beginning to exhibit worrying behaviour/results would be implemented with a non fsm receiving child in a similar situation. So, my point is, why tie pp to fsm and not overall school performance, using figures already easily available? But, as I've been told, it's totally impractical and ivory tower thinking confused. Ok, then. <sulks>

curlew Sat 31-Aug-13 22:28:32

"So, my point is, why tie pp to fsm and not overall school performance, using figures already easily available"

Listen very carefully,I will say this only once.

Because children on FSM are significantly more likely fail to reach their potential than other children. This is an incontrovertible, academically sound, peer reviewed, fact. And if you look at overall school performance, it might look as if it's doing really well, but be badly failing its vulnerable cohorts.

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 22:34:47

One of the points I made earlier was that the schools should also be able to access funding (easily and quickly) for any children beginning to fail whether on fsm or not. This, ON TOP of the funding given to schools on their general performance (which in practice would probably mean that schools in deprived areas with a lot of fsm receivers would receive more funding, but it would also mean that schools where performance levels are low for reasons other than poverty would also receive help).

ToysRLuv Sat 31-Aug-13 22:38:14

Listen vaeery carefully, I will only say zis once! grin Sorry, couldn't reziist..

ReallyTired England Sat 31-Aug-13 22:49:03

Generally children on free school meals and children in low income working families live in similar areas: Council or ex council estates! Schools often spend the pp money in ways that benefit the entire class. For example if the school puts an extra TA in reception then every child will benefit. Sometimes giving the naughty or less intelligent children more attention/ resources means that bright children can get on with their work.

Schools may spend the money on high quality INSETs on improving marking or the teaching of reading or anything else.

"(which in practice would probably mean that schools in deprived areas with a lot of fsm receivers would receive more funding, but it would also mean that schools where performance levels are low for reasons other than poverty would also receive help)."

Failing schools already recieve extra help. My children's school is under a local authority improvement plan. The first thing the LEA did was to replace both the head and his deputy. Good schools require good leaders, otherwise the extra money would be squandered.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 23:20:30

" I would think that assignments/homework, other exams, general attitude in class, rising number of unexplained/authorised absences would also be good indicators of a downwards slope."

I think you said upthread that your child/ren isn't/aren't yet of school age. That would seem likely, given you appear to believe that YR and Y1 are filled with assignments, homework and other exams which might be used for formative assessment. If there's going to be money attached, that assessment needs to be standardised, as otherwise canny schools will simply say that everyone is behind, and the history of early years standardised testing is not happy.

Let's try again: I asked for an efficient mechanism to assess potential academic shortfalls in early years, which means YR and Y1. FSM works well for that, as parents can and do claim it from the day their children start school (estimates vary as to takeup, but they're all high). It's standardised, it's difficult (not impossible, but difficult) for individual schools to game (about the most they can do is encourage people who are eligible to claim) and the assessment mechanism is cheap, reliable and in place. You're proposing, in place of that, exams and a standardised system of assessment for academic progress. In YR and Y1. The return of KS1 SATS, perhaps.

I thought most people who'd thought about early years education were of the opinion that there was too much testing? If you think the stigma of FSM is too much for your liberal conscience, do you think testing children in Y1 and then marking some of them as needing extra help on the basis of those tests is likely to be less stigmatising? Seriously? Do you think that, say, publishing figures for the number of children eligible for this assistance on a per-school basis would be less divisive that the published numbers for FSM? Why? Schools can't be held to have failed on the basis of their FSM numbers, but they could, and would, be held to have failed if the numbers eligible for targeted help on this basis rose.

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 23:32:39

"schools should also be able to access funding (easily and quickly) for any children beginning to fail whether on fsm or not."

Apart from the "easily" part, that's statementing. And statements have at least two problems which would equally befall a similar scheme that was also "easy".

1. Anecdotally from people working in primary, some parents realise that statements are in their child's interests, especially if as well as resources they also include a recommended secondary school, and therefore are very willing to work with the school to obtain one. Other parents either feel criticised or are worried about social services involvement, and resist or at least do not work with the school. There are no prizes for guessing which of those groups are, in general, the articulate middle classes.

2. Again, anecdotally, but from people who handle appeals, articulate middle class parents take refused statements to appeal, sometimes supported by specialist lawyers, and often win. Even if the less a&mc parents get the stage of a formal application, they are less likely to appeal and much less likely to win.

So if you put in place a system where children are assessed and resources are made available based on an application made by the school, backed by the teachers and the parents, then it is highly likely that the money will flow in precisely the opposite direction to which PP based on FSM flows. This isn't a zero-sum game, but the education budget is finite, and anything which balances the ability of the middle classes to game the system is to be welcomed.

morefalafel Sat 31-Aug-13 23:38:41

I was FSM as were 90% of my school friends. TBH we laughed at the kids who either PAID to eat what we got for free or had to eat their ridiculously small and cold packed lunch outside in the playground.

We used to line up with the others and tell the lady at the till our names and that was it, so no one knew unless we told them.

And we used to get seconds. grin

friday16 Sat 31-Aug-13 23:41:24

"Failing schools already recieve extra help. My children's school is under a local authority improvement plan."

And the resources available to deal with school that go into a category or into full special measures are considerable. I'm not sure what any of this does better than just using FSM as a coarse metric.

If someone proposed extra funding for children who appear to be at risk of failing but who aren't in receipt of PP via FSM and aren't on some sort of IEP, one can reasonably ask "such as who?" If they've not been detected by an economic measure, nor detected by classroom teachers, how is this new funding going to be allocated? Similarly, if the funding were at school level, it would be for schools that are "failing" but aren't under an improvement plan, in a category or in special measures. Again, one can ask "where are these schools?", and ponder how we'll find them if neither Ofsted not floor targets haven't.

EugenesAxe Sat 31-Aug-13 23:41:55

It wouldn't have any effect on the way I thought of you or your family. For completeness though, I confess that I do tend to judge how likely a school is to be 'good' based on the percentage of pupils qualifying for FSM.

I have read a lot of the debate above but not all - just want to say I know that my crude analysis will not always represent reality; that is why at a personal level this fact wouldn't bear on any relationship I had with someone.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 00:31:14

friday: I would assume that teachers can see children at risk of failing, through other things than formal assessment, e.g. general behaviour/attitude to classroom work. But, I could be wrong. As you rightly point out, I have no personal experience of the school system yet.

I think that schools should be able to secure funding without "statementing". PP seems to just be a way of getting around that problem, and that is simply not right. If pp is merely used to created a pool of money to be used for all children regardless of fsm, then surely that pool should and could be created in other ways without the need of making an official, automatic connection of poverty with underachievement? I see how it is an easy way to do things, but it doesn't sit well with me. I have no fully formed solution here, since I'm not an actual expert, but I can see room for improvement, and if I were a government advisor I'd look into this in more detail. As I'm not, I think I'll just go to bed now and dream of unicorns, fairies and the like. smile

BoundandRebound Sun 01-Sep-13 08:21:03

Toys is it nice up in lalaland?

It's all very well to be a liberal academic, with no personal or practical experience of either fiscal policy making, data analysis or grass roots education. its fine to theorise some utopian ideal with little or no understanding of the socio economic factors that can impact on a child's attainment

But ... you know, actually, I've nothing left to say that hasn't been said.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 08:46:12

Yep - you must be right. I'm sure the bigger picture doesn't count if we can just muddle along somehow - after all, change is just too hard. Neither should we ever have a right to discuss, or have an opinion on, anything without "grass roots" experience or fully formed and costed (right down to the last penny) alternatives to current policies, which are known for not being perfect. I understand and will now retreat to my ivory tower rented and rather cramped accommodation leaving you experts to it. [cat's bum mouth face]

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 08:54:52

I think one of the problems with this thread is that some people aren't accepting/don't know that the correlation between poverty/disadvantage and under achievement is not made up. It's real, tested, peer reviewed, incontrovertible. And it's nothing to do with poor children being stupid hmm. It's to do with a multitude of factors. Which I could go into if people insist.

Any theory which does not accept that as a basic premise is destined to fail.

BoundandRebound Sun 01-Sep-13 08:59:04

But you're not expounding a "bigger picture", you are simply ignoring irrefutable research because it doesn't fit with your liberal ideals

And not one of us believes education policy is perfect (laughable)

Harrin Sun 01-Sep-13 09:02:35

In my primary school we had to say if we were having Sandwiches, hot dinners or FSM every day during the register! No one cared though

In my secondary school I remember being jealous of my friend with FSM as I had to take sandwiches and she was able to get chocolate doughnuts

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 09:04:26

I never, ever, said that, curlew. I have been talking about the bigger picture, principles and the psychology of labelling - possibly in a foreign language. Ah, forget about it.. <locks door of ivory tower and glares out of small window>

PrincessScrumpy Sun 01-Sep-13 09:04:43

I work in a secondary school and day-to-day all kids have a lunch card that parents load money onto and fsm cards look the same and are swiped in the same way. The only time it's an issue is on school trips - lunches are provided but kids usually bring a packed lunch and don't want the brown bag fsm even though it's nice food imo. Teachers end up eating it - or they get thrown. We only eat it because it send like such a waste.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 09:06:59

I do not refute the research. At all. But I get it - I'm laughable with my principles and psychological theories. Absolutely and completely deluded.

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 09:14:17

Toys- I will put money on my politics being much further to the left the ours, and my principles being even more pie in the sky (unless you're Tony Benn)

Which is why I support the whole idea of targeting support at children who are in real danger of slipping through the cracks. Who often (not always) do not have well informed parents who can advocate for them. And who are usually at the back of the queue when good stuff happens at school, because they don't feel socially included, or it costs money, or the confident, well supported from home children speak up first, or, or, or.......

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 09:14:43

Than yours, not the ours....

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 09:21:02

See, I'm totally agreeing with you there. Only disagreeing about the current policy being good long term. My background in psychology and counselling makes me see the aspects that worry me. I'm glad that the government us trying to do something, though.

Also, I come from a country where my now retired df used to pay 60 % of his income in taxes to fund things like education, and we all thought of it as quite fair (even if at times annoying)

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 09:22:18

Ah, posted too soon.. Anyway, so I come to the discussion with a different experience and mindset to most..

EeTraceyluv Sun 01-Sep-13 09:42:43

God, I wish we qualified! It would save a fortune.

Slightly different situation here. We are not entitled to FSM's but all new P1 starts get them funded by LA - think this helps with the stigma

unlucky83 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:22:38

Been reading this on and off and it is frustrating me ...
Just because you get FSM doesn't mean your child is from a deprived background and likely to underachieve....
But many children will be ...
You could be well educated, motivated etc but on benefits due to ill health or family circumstances etc (My DD1s friend gets FSM at secondary but is highly motivated (more than my DD) and does well academically - FSM situation is due to divorce)
But if you have low aspirations with learning difficulties etc you are more likely to be, rather than not, on benefits and eligible for FSM.
I would rather schools got extra money for the first category even though not needed, than not give extra to the second to support these children.
Used to work at an inner city school, a real mix of children ...
At one end you had children turning up in Nursery at 3 not understanding the concept of a book -they had never seen one in real life- in nappies, unable to use cutlery (often whose parents had started life equally deprived) .... to ones who could read. The same children by age 11 one group were struggling to write more than a few sentences using basic words, the others, whose parents often arranged private tutors too, were discussing with the class teacher the use of un-, dis-, and anti-.
How do you decided the level of extra support a school needs?
Just looking at test results they are of older children - so potentially missing a particular high intake of the deprived ones.
Average results meaningless - the high results pulled down by the low and vice versa.
Looking at individual results - very time consuming -and again older children - who through extra resources the school may have been able to improve more - and also a disincentive for the school .
Looking at an area - not ideal if you have a mix...
Test/score them at nursery? Maybe but another tier of paperwork for teachers etc to deal with...(and an incentive for a school to exaggerate)
Looking at levels of FSM - not ideal but although you might be including ones who don't need the help, you shouldn't be missing the majority of children who do need help ... and that has got to be a good thing....
As to the psychological aspect - if you are talking about small children -the ones eligible for FSM throughout school - telling them they are less likely to achieve will do no more harm to their self esteem than being in a class full of children who are doing better than they are academically... the ones who don't need the extra help will not be effected by the 'label' as they won't be in the lower groups anyway ...

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:43:13

My background in psychology and counselling

Just what education needs more of. Less targeted help and intervention, fewer peer-reviewed prospective cohort studies, a reduction in focus on the basis for inequality and exclusion, and a great deal more counselling.

Real children, in the real world, are getting real benefit from PP. It was able to be introduced so quickly because tying school budgets to FSM levels (I simplify, but not by much) was fast and easy. What you're proposing would take years to take effect, and in the meantime, children who are being helped right now would not be receiving that help.

Your proposal that teachers can just identify those in need to help and get funding just like that is naive to the point of laughability. What would happen if a school decided that every single one of its pupils needed these extra resources? What would happen if a parent felt their child was in need of extra help, but the school or LEA disagreed? You've just re-invented statementing, complete with all its appeals and tribunals. But although schools exist where their level of statementing is a substantial fraction of their FSM level (the two are correlated to an extent) it's unusual, and the statementing process is necessarily complex and slow.

And if your concern is about "labelling", how is the "labelling" of a statement any less of an issue than the "labelling" of FSM --- it's worse for the child, if that's your issue, because FSM is about their parents while your process would actually be about the child directly.

I'm way, way, way to the left of mainstream politics, and the Lib Dems are the sort of hand-waving dinner party types that make my skin crawl. But the PP is a good, effective policy, and the quick and dirty approach of driving it off FSM is good, effective process. Perhaps if you actually went into some schools that are benefitting from it you might see why.

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:44:36

Who often (not always) do not have well informed parents who can advocate for them. And who are usually at the back of the queue when good stuff happens at school, because they don't feel socially included, or it costs money, or the confident, well supported from home children speak up first, or, or, or.......

This. Every word.

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 10:45:52

"As to the psychological aspect - if you are talking about small children -the ones eligible for FSM throughout school - telling them they are less likely to achieve will do no more harm to their self esteem than being in a class full of children who are doing better than they are academically... the ones who don't need the extra help will not be effected by the 'label' as they won't be in the lower groups anyway ..."

And you can't dismiss the psychological benefit of just giving a child attention. At my ds's school, they do a reading intervention programme with year 7s and 8s. Children arriving at the school with no diagnosed special needs, but with a reading age significantly below their chronological age spend an hour a week with a volunteer reading, being read to, playing a literacy based game, that sort of thing. These children are often eligible for FSM, by the way. If I had not actually seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed the difference that hour a week makes. It's nothing to do with the reading, in my opinion, it's a grown up actually spending one to one time with them. That's the sort of thing the pp can make happen.

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 10:56:29

"As to the psychological aspect - if you are talking about small children -the ones eligible for FSM throughout school - telling them they are less likely to achieve "

Who's doing that? Could you tell us about the school that is singling out small children to be told that they're less likely to achieve because they're on FSM? I suspect that now it's September Ofsted have got some inspectors just itching to do an emergency inspection and whack a school into special measures, and a school that was doing what you describe would be a pretty good candidate.

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 01-Sep-13 11:04:16

"As to the psychological aspect - if you are talking about small children -the ones eligible for FSM throughout school - telling them they are less likely to achieve "

I highly doubt any school is telling them that! Children do work out from groups who is clever etc but thats about it.

Suggesting a school simply applies for more money for every child who needs support is madess, firstly theres not enough money and secondly statementing them all would be a nightmare and far more labelling.

Parents who claim FSM usually have a choice not to by gaining employment, those with SEN and a statement dont. They simpy cant be compared.

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 01-Sep-13 11:06:47

Hmm remembers my bf on fsm when she felt ashamed of it. She's now a leading family lawyer who fights for women like her mum who were let down by a man. From the age of 16 she salted what she could into a slush found so she never found herself in that position. The stigma she felt was WRONG but I'm not sure it is morally right for schools to encourage fsm/benefits because they attract more money for the school.

When DH's mum was teaching 60's to 90's she said that in the early days it was normal to tell a child (she taught 10/11 at middle school - deprived W Yorks estates) that if they worked hard they could get good jobs and have a better life - it used to be OK to encourage them to aspire. Somewhere in the mid 70's that went out of the window and political correctness came in. From that point lives became more chaotic and the boundaries between right and wrong got blurred. A significant reason why we moved our dd from a top 100 comp aged 13 to the independent sector - because our values were not being underpinned at school in an environment more diverse than her "leafy" primary but where two families - prob amongst many ,single mums, with high achieving dd's had FSM, had been left in the lurch by men and supported their dds to the hilt. The PP was spent on all and it was generally the more supported girls who engaged with the enrichment activities it provided. Very little was there to deal with behaviour that stemmed from chaotic and distressed homes.

I don't know the right way to fund schools but if we have a level playing field of equality for state education then then I don't think it's via pp linked to fsm.

unlucky83 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:07:41

friday - I'm agreeing with you !!! - maybe badly worded - I thought that the labeling was a concern of toys

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:10:42

Well, I come from the "la la land" where there are no ability based teaching groups in schools, yet results (while not perfect) are so good that representatives from other countries, including the UK, come to learn from the system and how it's implemented. I recognise it's a different society, but it must be somehow not that utopian and strange, if the UK feels there is something there to look at. I am simply not comfortable with labelling, as I'm not used to it. Neither have I seen the benefits - I only know that there are potential pit falls.

As you know, I don't know the ins and outs and grass root practicalities of school budgeting, but wish to bring in another angle to the discussion. In my mind the whole school system needs a major overhaul. I know it's not going to happen. Sorry for annoying you all with my ridiculous ideals.

Silverfoxballs Sun 01-Sep-13 11:11:02

People are feeling very insulted that because they receive FSM they are lumped in to the underachieving academic demograph.

Being poor does influence outcomes but a loving parent who encourages education and is supportive also influences outcomes.

The parents that don't eat so they can feed their dc and take them to the library because it is free. Who will sacrifice everything, their dc can most certainly have a decent outcome.

RooRooTaToot Sun 01-Sep-13 11:14:37

I've just finished reading this thread and as a secondary teacher I just want to put forward how the sub-group targets work from my school's perspective.

Class teacher - it is our job to ensure all children reach their potential, to flag up any starting to underachieve and to put forward interventions. Next week I will be going through my year 11 results and explain why there was any underachievement. I will also be creating my action plans for my new groups in regards to differentiation and additional support which may be needed. These are added to and changed as the year progresses and includes SEN, G&T, EAL and FSM.

HoD, HoY and management regularly meet to look at the data for entire year groups from year 7 up to year 11 to discuss what intervention is needed.

In my school results are generally really good and most sub-groups do really well, but we are still struggling with our FSM sub-group.

For example (these are rough figures for ease of mathematics, but not too dissimilar), there are 100 students in a year group. 15 have FSM. The data for a year group shows that 90% of children are achieving their predictions or better. Our value added is fab with children achieving 1 or sometimes 2 levels higher than statistics say they should.

This all looks great until we look at the 10 who are underachieving, sometimes by quite a lot.
1 child is in and out of hospital a lot.
1 child has suffered bereavement
The other 8 are FSM.

It is management's job to work out why these students are not achieving. We want all these children to achieve. The PP helps us to try different interventions to stop these children on FSM falling through the cracks.

You will notice that the other 7 students on FSM are doing absolutely fine, so intervention is not needed for them.

So we could look at the stats and say 90% of our students achieve their predictions or better and look wonderful, but we can also say that 50% of students on FSM at our school fail to reach their potential. This should not be the case. It is wrong that with a free state education system there are those who are failing due to poverty and deprivation. It should not happen. The teachers don't want it to and neither does the government hence PP.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:21:56

I know nobody is actually telling little children they are bound to fail just because they're on fsm, but the general assumption is there and officially validated if you know anything about the fsm-pp link. Also if teachers are meant to keep a special eye on the fsm children to prevent them from failing, before the signs are there, how is that guaranteed to not translate to differential treatment (whether positive or negative)? Or do we want fsm children who are not failing to potentially be treated/seen differently to other children? That is the problem I see. As well as the.. ahem.. adding validity to the benefit bashing (I won't say the d-word!) thus potentially widening the "gap". But, like I said, I'm glad that the government is trying to help..

<<<<<<<<<<round of applause for all of curlew's wise and patient posts on this thread>>>>>>>>>>>

I have one, soon to be two children in primary school and I am a school governor. PP makes a vast difference to the school budget and we have to explain what the money is spent on and demonstrate the impact that the interventions have.

We have the volunteer reading helpers too, and an intervention specifically for boys who are likely to not reach their full potential. We can assess and measure the difference these make to the children. At our school there is a focus on enriching the curriculum, for example the children are able to write about and understand more things if they have had experience of more things, to put it very simply.

On the Ofsted school dashboard you can look at/compare the progress of disadvantaged pupils vs other pupils and in many schools there is a glaring difference in both attainment and progress between the two groups.

Yes, it is a blunt tool. Yes, there are lots of low income families whose children do very well and who are supported at home with their education. Equally there are high income families who fail to support their children well.

But as a cohort, FSM pupils as a group are at a disadvantage and this is a way to help to 'narrow the gap'.

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 11:24:38

"People are feeling very insulted that because they receive FSM they are lumped in to the underachieving academic demograph."

<whispers- could it just possibly be just a tiny-winy bit of snobbery?>

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:26:27

Mike Godwin's original contention was that as any discussion on the Internet proceeds, the probability that someone will mention Hitler approaches unity.

There should be some sort of lemma to that, which we could call Toy's Law, where if the topic is education, Finland will probably be mentioned first.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:30:48

I don't have all the answers, and I'm sorry I ever commented now. It's only that I know how official assumptions work, through my personal experience seeking help for pnd, and how demeaning they can feel when you're at the receiving end.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:35:27

I don't think it's snobbery to have issues with the assumption that if you're poor (very temporarily or long term), your children are automatically seen as disadvantaged and in need of interventions. And that is the basic premise of pp. The system seems to be liked by schools (from what I see here), however, so what can I say..

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:37:10

"I know nobody is actually telling little children they are bound to fail just because they're on fsm, but the general assumption is there "

The general assumption is that there is a link, not that they are "bound to fail". Surely you can't have got the keys to your ivory tower without reading at least one paper which used correlation as infer links between demographic issues and outcomes?

We know a great deal about demographic issues that correlate to educational outcomes, by income, gender, ethnicity, language, class, parental education, whatever. The next part is trying to provide targeted help. To ignore demographic effects is to ignore one of the best sets of evidence that we have.

Raising the spectre of Finland is unhelpful: they simply don't have the demographic diversity we do. You can argue that we should aspire to the same state, but given the historic low levels of immigration to Finland and the high levels to the UK, it's not clear how possible this would be. But the argument "it's easy to fix education, we just have to fix society first" is hardly constructive.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:37:35

Yes, the mention of Finland should be banned. It's probably not even a real country. Did I mention the president's name is Hitler (no relation to Adolf)? grin

You are failing to understand, ToysRLuv, that PP exists because there is a strong association between poverty and children failing to reach their potential. Just because there are exceptions doesn't negate it.

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:40:15

"I don't think it's snobbery to have issues with the assumption that if you're poor (very temporarily or long term), your children are automatically seen as disadvantaged and in need of interventions."

I do, however, this it's snobbery to start from a position of privilege and pretend to speak for those that are receiving the help. Your claim is that people would rather not receive help, because they feel offended by that help. Get out there and do some research, and find out if that's true.

unlucky83 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:42:51

silverfox no-one should feel insulted!
I - and I am sure the professionals - don't for one second believe that every child on FSM is deprived and likely to underachieve...

I'm sure most people on here have children who had at least seen a book by the time they were 3 -but there really, really are children out there who haven't...this is a reality -maybe hard to believe for people who haven't seen it.
This is for many reasons...it isn't just being poor - it is coming from a non-aspiring background - an 'underclass'...and their parental role models probably had the same upbringing...
Not everyone who is on benefits or poor - on FSM - will be in this situation - but without a doubt the ones who ARE will be ...if that makes sense...
So IMO if the easiest and quickest way is a blanket approach - so these children who do really need the help get it -
I feel that is more important to society than the fact that the ones who don't need it (like I assume your children?) also get it...
and extra funds for the school can never be a bad thing ...

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:44:35

Is it all about immigration then? Finland does have some areas (in Helsinki) where the level of newcomers and non-Finnish speakers is high, but still somehow manage ok. I don't know. Maybe it really is that utopian, then. Better tell all the governments taking notes to stop, because it's futile and useless.

I didn't know you couldn't have an opinion unless it was highly practical and "helpful". Thanks for pointing that out, though. I'll know for next time.

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 01-Sep-13 11:45:03

Roorootatoot. I applaud your post but do you think the 8 are not achieving because the average or even average teacher delivering outstanding lessons dooes not have the specialist skills to cope/deal with such dc. Don't you think there is an argument to get them into specialist units for teaching? They were the ones who disrupted at ddks school which sounnds similar to yours. It was the principal reason we moved her.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:46:56

I'm not privileged at all. That is your assumption.

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 11:49:58

"Finland does have some areas (in Helsinki) where the level of newcomers and non-Finnish speakers is lower than in most UK metropolitan authorities, but nonetheless higher than Finland's historically extremely low levels".

Fixed that for you.

"Better tell all the governments taking notes to stop, "

Few governments are. Well-meaning lefties love it, rather in the same way ten years ago they were all watching that dreadful "Etre et Avoir" film and pretending that Islington were suddenly a small village in the Massif Central.

"I didn't know you couldn't have an opinion unless it was highly practical and "helpful"."

You're arguing that a fielded, operational and effective intervention should be changed to something else. It behoves you to have a something else to discuss.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:50:42

And, I am NOT, opposed to helping those who need the help. I'm sure nobody would turn down free school meals and uniforms, etc. if the assumptions stopped there. And believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:55:48

I have a point, but it's not an easy to swallow ready-made answer to everything. In fact, it's more of a question than an answer.

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 11:56:47

"I'm sure nobody would turn down free school meals and uniforms, etc. if the assumptions stopped there"

But it's not an assumption that in general poor/disadvantaged children achieve less well than others! It's a fact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

<beats head on brick wall repeatedly>

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 11:57:59

<bangs head on wall on the opposite side>

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 12:00:01

Toys- before we go any further- do you believe that there is a link between poverty/disadvantage and under achievement or not? Please could you just say yes or no?

ToysRLuv Sun 01-Sep-13 12:02:58

Yes, I believe there is a statistical link. Same as with boys underachieving more often than girls etc. I'm just not sure what the practical implementation of that stat should be, or whether there should be any measures based solely on that.

RooRooTaToot Sun 01-Sep-13 12:05:06

Married - it isn't quite as easy as that. Not all of the children out of the 8 will be disruptive. Maybe 2 of them. The others are very hard to motivate and are inclined to put their head on the desk and switch off.

The most frustrating thing is that these children are intelligent and have the potential to achieve A*-C's but they don't see any reason to try to do it. 1-1 conversations about what ambitions they had (not just academically or work-wise, but things like travel, sports, hobbies) merited such gems as 'nothing', 'I just want to play video games', 'My mum didn't do exams and she's fine. She says I don't need to bother either."

That last comment was from a girl with an A capability who was working at a D grade. I spent the next 3 years encouraging her and challenging her expectations of herself (I fought to keep her in my class as groups changed each year as she could be "hard to handle" and some other teachers inclined to write her off as she would be gobby one lesson and head on the desk the next lesson). She did achieve the A in the end. Partly this was due to being in a school where the majority of students have high aspirations and partly due to a myriad of interventions put in place by a range of staff.

I highly doubt that putting all underachieving students, who have low aspirations into one specialist unit full time would benefit them. One or two sessions per week can have an impact, but I doubt it for the majority.

I would however welcome more training on how to reach these children. I count the student mentioned above as one of my biggest successes, but I also know for every one like that there is another 2 students I haven't been able to reach (not for lack of effort or care either!).

I do not know what the answer is, but I am sure there must be one.

ToysRLuv, I believe you mean well, but you are are quite naive.

There is a massive gap in your knowledge with regard to how FSM and schools work and you may find it easier to construct a logical argument when you are in possession of the facts.

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 12:11:22

"I'm just not sure what the practical implementation of that stat should be, or whether there should be any measures based solely on that."

Historically, women who wanted to do science degrees (or even A Levels) were dissuaded from doing so by a variety of pressures, and even today rates of women in engineering are vanishingly small. There are programmes in place to address this, which aim to encourage (for example) women to see possible careers in STEM other than medicine, and in particular to do A Level Physics.

It is not the case that being a woman means you cannot, or will not, succeed in science. But it is much, much less likely. Boys doing badly at maths are supported, girls are often left to flounder as it doesn't matter so much. Up until recently, girls' schools were much less likely to offer Physics or even, in some cases, A Level maths. And women doing postgraduate courses are more likely to be doing PGCEs and less likely to be doing PhDs: even subjects in which women are now arriving as undergraduates are still virtually all-male preserves amongst doctoral candidates. Again, much is being done to address this.

I take it you'd close all this down? It's just a statistical correlation, and the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The interventions are based mostly just on the observation that women are less likely to progress to higher levels in some subjects for which they nonetheless have all the lower level qualifications. Isn't this just labelling women as bound to fail?

BoundandRebound Sun 01-Sep-13 12:11:59

But the problem is with reference to the socio demographics of the UK and educational policy and proved correlations of sub sections and attainment you don't seem to understand what anyone else is talking about even though there is copious information out there

curlew Sun 01-Sep-13 12:19:48

There are literacy intervention programmes for boys at my ds's school. It so happens that he is very good at English. So he doesn't take part in the programme. Neither do a significant wodge of other boys. Why would I be offended that he is "lumped in with the underachievers because he is a boy"? He is part of a cohort that underachieve. So he is "looked at" to see if he is underachieving. He isn't. Fantastic. Others are. So the take part in the programme. Also Fantastic.

BoundandRebound Sun 01-Sep-13 12:27:24

I think that's a valid point

We use the money to target the students who need support and not everyone in the demographic group

Every school does

For us though its not just educational attainment but pastoral needs

This year I'm hoping we will get a literacy and numeracy programme off the ground for parents and families

UK education policy has let down generations

friday16 Sun 01-Sep-13 12:57:03

"This year I'm hoping we will get a literacy and numeracy programme off the ground for parents and families"

Quite. I don't think people in general understand the implications of multi-generational literacy issues. All this endless "but I help my children" or, worse, "they should help their children" ignores the fact that there are parents who can't. It might be for any number of reasons, including, for all I care, fecklessness. But whoever's fault it is if parents can't read, it's sure as hell isn't their children's. Those children, raised in houses where literacy is not part of daily life, need interventions or they are highly likely to fail in school. And FSM is a predictor of that.

Yes, of course, there are plenty of people claiming FSM who are not illiterate. But there are fewer people who are not claiming FSM who are illiterate, because illiteracy is a major predictor of poverty, and vice versa. Running schemes to improve parental literacy, and to attempt to eradicate poor experiences of education, is incredibly valuable work, and needs to be funded as a matter of urgency. And, unsurprisingly, school FSM rates and EAL rates, which again is closely correlated are not a perfect way to target those projects, but it's better than anything else anyone is bringing to the table.

Schools are using PP to reach out into the community and attempt to undo decades of poor educational practice. Toys is worried about "labelling" people. I'm more interested in helping them.

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