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to ask why is there a link between free school meals and how well children do at school?

(49 Posts)
Chasdingle Fri 28-Mar-14 23:26:18

DS is at preschool and recently got ofsted inspection and something they wrote in the inspection i though abit 'what???'

It was basically along the lines that children who would be in receipt of free school meals if they attended school did well at the nursery but less well than than their peers and were still behind their peers on starting school.

Why is this linked to free school meals or being poor? I really feel like its tarring everyone with the same brush.

When i was at school i got free school meals and i was always in the top set for everything. a friend of mine also on free school meals and between the two of us we were probably in the top 5 pupils in all subjects out of 120 kids. (and i don't mean that in a show off way just merely stating fact)

Obviously i realise that stats probably say that free school meal children do less well but i remember my mum getting angry when i was at school as people used to alway slag off 'one parent families' which we were.

I have a good life now and have a good job so am seeing this from a child point of view rather than a parent..

CailinDana Fri 28-Mar-14 23:31:52

It's a statistics thing. Statistically poorer children tend to do less well at school but in this country calling someone "poor" is seriously beyond acceptable so "in receipt of FSMs" is code for "poor". Schools are expected to close the gap between rich and poor children education-wise and this is a measure of how that expectation is being met.

WooWooOwl Fri 28-Mar-14 23:42:30

It's come from statistics, but eligibility for FSMs is an incredibly blunt tool to decide which children are likely to need the most support through the pupil premium.

As you have proved, there are many many exceptions to the rule, but it remains a fact that children from disengaged families are likely to need FSMs at the same time as being low achievers because of their home environment.

iamatwinareyou Fri 28-Mar-14 23:48:51

My DD gets free school meals and she is top of her class

Preciousbane Fri 28-Mar-14 23:57:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

inkyfingers Sat 29-Mar-14 00:00:19

It's a blunt tool but the only thing the libdems got right (pupil premium). For some schools it represents a huge amount of cash to try to close the gap between poorer pupils which all the stats show. It also means Ofsted will ask searching questions on what exactly a school has spent the premium on and did it improve attainment of these pupils.

The SEN budget has shrunk though....

HopelessDei Sat 29-Mar-14 00:03:52

Can you really not see the link?

No-one's being tarred. Great that your child is doing well. Doesn't change the facts. It's a social indicator.

mrscumberbatch Sat 29-Mar-14 00:05:49

I think in our local area (according to statistics)

The number of pupils at affluent school receiving all A's at Higher/ A Level was 70 something... Percentage of kids on FSM was about 2%

There was literally no school that bucked the trend on the way down the line, all the way to the school with 89% FSM and only 1 pupil achieving A's.

It was an eye opener for me as it was SO stereotypical. I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it written down.

Chasdingle Sat 29-Mar-14 00:09:12

Obviously i can see the link hopelessdei i suppose its still abit of resentment left over from childhood with people always slagging off one parent families and children on free school meals

So out of interest, the pupil premium. If i was still at school and i qualified for pupil premium cus i got free school meals, does the school have to spend this 'premium' on me or can it put it into the general pot- either to spend on general education or on SED children (whose parents may or may not have money)

Chasdingle Sat 29-Mar-14 00:09:45

SEN i mean

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Mar-14 00:10:49

See it the other way around - better off kids do better on average. It's unsurprising when you think of there being more money for extra-curricular activities and tuition.

However, it's also a blunt indicator of the education level of the parents, and the education level of the mother is a massive predictor of educational success.

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Mar-14 00:13:14

Pupil premium money has to benefit pupil premium kids. The school has to publish how it uses it so wouldn't get away with spending it on something general.

Devora Sat 29-Mar-14 00:17:12

I was also on FSM and from a one parent family. I understand what you're saying about being tarred, OP, but since we both excelled educationally we can understand that this isn't personal or derogatory wink

My dd's going to be on Pupil Premium Plus next year, and as I understand it the school has to spend the money in a way that demonstrably benefits her, but she doesn't necessarily have to have sole benefit. It shouldn't sink into a general funding pot.

Chasdingle Sat 29-Mar-14 00:18:27

thats my question exactly noble giraffe. Say i was the only kid in my school on free school meals (i wasn't) how does the school use this money to say it is supporting me (when i am in the top set for every subject anyway) or can it use it to support other children who achieve lower intellectually?

Devora Sat 29-Mar-14 00:21:43

No, it would be to support your learning, OP. It could be used, for example, to pay for music lessons for you, or other opportunities your mum couldn't easily afford.

Chasdingle Sat 29-Mar-14 00:21:45

or even to be blunt there may be less intellectual children that are not entitled to pupil premium but may benefit from it more due to the level of intellect they are at (and i don't mean that in a horrible way) than clever pupils that are entitled to pupil premium

Grennie Sat 29-Mar-14 00:23:11

The sschool I went to had the highest number of children claiming FSM in the country at the time. I did really well, a whole load of really intelligent friends didnt.

My best friend lived with her sister and very disabled mum in a cramped flat. She ended up having a baby at 16 and doing a MW job. She was very intelligent, but lived in a situation where her very disabled mum (through major illness) was struggling to do her best for her children (that was very obvious that she really was). But in reality, struggled just to do the basics like cook dinner, all without any help from anyone.

Compare that to a family where parents are paying for tutoring, taking their children to lots of educational activities, etc. Of course those children will do better. They have parents that are not having to struggle just to get through each day.

BreconBeBuggered Sat 29-Mar-14 00:25:40

Broadly speaking it's up to the school to decide on how best to spend the money, but they will have to provide detailed evidence of how PP has been used to boost achievement. It's not only current FSM children who attract it any more, either - if they've been eligible in the last 6 years they qualify.

Devora Sat 29-Mar-14 00:25:42

Of course you're right that children on Pupil Premium may not be lacking in academic achievement. My dd is certainly more than holding her own at school so far. She will be on pupil premium plus because she has been in care. The extra funding is a recognition that LAC nearly all face significant extra challenges and by providing that funding the Govt is acknowledging that and supporting schools to pay extra attention to those children's needs.

andsmile Sat 29-Mar-14 00:29:03

They use it as an indicator of deprivation which is linked to lowere levels of achievement.

They also calculate (in some schools) GCSE target grades with postcodes, prior results from KS's and pupil profile (based on past stats born out).

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Mar-14 00:39:06

Chas, it doesn't have to be used for academics, it could be used to pay for you to go on school trips or for music lessons. To give you extra opportunities.

missingwelliesinsd Sat 29-Mar-14 00:39:37

The FSM is being used as a clumsy measure to indicate lower income households which in turn indicates a greater likelihood of children from lower income households performing academically below children from more affluent households.
Obviously and thankfully this is not the case all the time. Dedicated parents will always help their children succeed no matter what their circumstances, but as a general and clumsy measure income level is tied to educational outcomes.

mushysnails Sat 29-Mar-14 01:04:48

It's a very blunt instrument, but I've read various reports (Joseph Rowntree, Sutton Trust) and it seems to work as a broad indicator, although less so from my own observations. I was on FSM years ago but academically I'm bright and sailed through a RG science degree. Same for a lot of my peers, we were all in a really poor area but encouraged to study hard for university. My parents were dirt poor and lived in a council flat but supported me (and fed me loads at home! Always bought cheap but from markets and cooked from scratch). My DCs are on FSM now but also doing very well, better than many other kids in his class who are just out of the FSM threshold but probably with challenging home lives that don't tick the right boxes.

Grennie Sat 29-Mar-14 01:06:55

Statistically using FSM as a tool to measure, is accurate.

l12ngo Sat 29-Mar-14 02:03:37

In my field, there's a common term that 'correlation does not equal causation'. It applies here but people (especially those influenced by politics) will always try to manipulate statistics.

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