Even the 'Left Wing' media are questioning the assertion that FSM is a definitive measure.e(9 Posts)
At last something to question the posters on here that use FSM as a measure to beat grammar and other successful faith schools e.t.c with
I work in a school which is terribly deprived yet the uptake of FSM is much lower than you would expect. We've been saying for years it is a crude measure and doesn't reflect the realities of how many families are struggling. Also with the universal free meals for infants many parents who are eligible just don't bother applying even though the importance is stressed.
Hopefully it will be something else to beat grammar schools with.
[Unfortunately not a nail in their coffin...].
It is true that Pupil Premium and FSM definitions can be a bit blunt in assessing low income. However this article is talking specifically about school admissions and, currently, admission rules are very strict about schools not being able to assess parental income (or a child's hobbies, or the level of education of the parents, marital status of parents etc) at all.
The only acceptable way for them to allow for low income in the admissions system it is via meeting criteria for the FSM and Pupil Premium funding so that's the only correlation that is possible for most. It is probably somewhat inaccurate for all schools - selective or otherwise.
However, that's not to say the assertion is incorrect that grammar schools and many popular academies have fewer children from lower income families than an average school. If you look at other measures (for example how many children attend state grammar having come from a private prep or how many children at top performing academies live in temporary housing) it is still clear that lower income children are disproportionately under represented at many.
The article advocates using Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index instead as a measure but the index looks at children living in an area and how poorer they are than average children elsewhere. It also isn't necessarily specific or accurate to each individual child and the Fair Admissions Campaign says that Catholic schools are often located in poorer areas but that doesn't mean they take their pupils from that area (people travel for faith schools and locals can't get in if not Catholic).
"What this model says is that at the primary level, Catholic schools clearly under-take pupils in the 50% most deprived areas, given the areas in which they are located, and over-take pupils in the 50% most well-off areas. This effect is at its largest amongst the very richest and very poorest pupils. So the claims are not at all supported."
I have often said that FSM / Pupil premium is an extremely crude measure of actual deprivation - but while it remains the only measure of deprivation at an individual child mlevel that is reported in education data.
If a better measure is introduced, that tracks what we really want to know - actual deprivation at an individual child level within a school - then of course those of us who look at education data will want to use it instead.
The graphs in this article show exactly what you would expect in terms of the access to grammar schools by poorer pupils:
This is not actually because grammar schools are run by evil people determined to keep out poorer kids. It's because it's actually impossible for a selective system to boost social mobility, or at least it has so far proved to be impossible in every country that has ever had a selective system. It's like trying to eat soup with a fork and then blaming the fork.
Maybe if we could all just admit this we could discuss instead whether selective or non-selective systems produce the best educational results for the majority of children. We have more than enough grammars and secondary moderns surviving in this country to make an informed judgement on this.
Sometimes the families with reasonable incomes have children with poor outcomes because they have chaotic lives and don't make time for their children. Poverty caused by lack of money is not the only form of poverty. Sometimes people who don't qualify for benefits are really struggling and only have a few £ per week more than the FSM families but don't get anything at all. FSM has always been crude but unless you know the circumstances of all children , it is difficult to what system might be better. In the same way, PP is paid for the children of a pilot as well as the lowest paid recruit with basic qualifications. I rather suspect there won't be an attainment gap for the pilot's children.
There is always an assumption that FSM children are actually rather clever but no-one finds that out. I am not sure that this is universally the case. Many of our PP children also have SEN. Quite a few FSM pupils start school way behind their peers. They will not get to a grammar school. Therefore if grammars have all these places for FSM children, how big will the intake area be? Could be huge.
I think the focus is back to front and "wealthy" needs a more scientific definition. Too often anybody above fsm is deemed wealthy which is ludicrous. In the same breath as "wealthy" "able to afford private" often follows. Very few can. Surely as regards benefits to children part of financial wealth is disposable cash. Those without the bank of mum and dad, not lucky enough to buy a long time ago,without social housing,zero top ups,debts......often have just as little and sometimes less.
Surely everybody who isn't wealthy has the right to social mobility,not just a minute ever shrinking few on fsm. So what is wealthy? Fsm is just a tiny band grabbed on by politicians to keep everybody quiet whilst they say"we've done our bit".What we have at the moment is a sandwich system. The group in the middle is huge.
And yy to the posters last point. Those on fsm aren't often in the top sets at comps,the very group who could or should access grammar schools. The excuse given by those against grammar schools is that many just aren't suitable,have Sens etc which is fine but that argument needs to go both ways in both sectors.
I am a Governor of a school with 10% PP and it is in a fairly leafy area. We have parents who earn enough to live in an expensive area, own their own houses, have Florida holidays, but do not care that much about education and never expect their children to get to a grammar school. They don't seem to want or expect social mobility because they are quite happy where they are and often their children will take over the family business. Being just about good enough is good enough. They will always be ok but are not striving for better.
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