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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is correct

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

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

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

Lulabellarama Wed 06-Feb-13 15:30:30

I can see why it would have upset you initially.

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

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

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

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

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

So I think ClayDavis is right.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doesn't this breach Data Protection?

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

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

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

I used to get FSM.

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

I got 4 As at A Level.

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

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

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

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

What's the stigma with Forces children? shock

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

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

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

InWithTheITCrowd Wed 06-Feb-13 18:12:34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

are obv sometimes kids who are fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bacardi it will be on the school database

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

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

agree with Porridge.

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