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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really glad they enjoyed it too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ghostsgowoooh Wed 06-Feb-13 23:34:52

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Ghostsgowoooh Wed 06-Feb-13 23:09:46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is absolute bollocks.

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

How awful for you ihategeorgeosborne.

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

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

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

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

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

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