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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?

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

trashcanjunkie Thu 29-Aug-13 14:30:33

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 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


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.

BeerTricksPotter Thu 29-Aug-13 16:41:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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?

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