A quarter of state school pupils in England receiving free school meals

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A grounds number of authorities schoolhouse pupils successful England are receiving free schoolhouse meals, according to charismatic figures that besides uncover soaring numbers attending typical needs schools and rising school vacancies.

The figures showing that much than 2 cardinal pupils qualified for free lunches, an summation of 75,000 successful nan past year, were described arsenic “chilling” by Daniel Kebede, nan wide caput of nan National Education Union (NEU).

“Today a 4th of pupils return free schoolhouse meals, that is 2.1 cardinal children. In 2015, it was 1 successful seven,” Kebede said. “Schools do each they tin to alleviate nan problems children and young group look done poverty, but this should not beryllium happening successful nan first place. These inequalities do not commencement and extremity astatine nan schoolhouse gates.

“An incoming authorities must reside kid poorness by instantly scrapping nan two-child limit and ensuring each kid has a free schoolhouse meal.”

According to nan data from nan Department for Education (DfE), 24.6% of authorities schoolhouse pupils are eligible for free schoolhouse meals (FSM) this year, up from 23.8% past year. Children are eligible if their parents aliases carers person benefits aliases cosmopolitan in installments and their household’s after-tax income is beneath £7,400.

Child poorness campaigners said nan FSM figures understated nan existent level of request among children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The kindness Child Poverty Action Group said its study suggested up to a further 900,000 children were surviving successful poorness but ineligible for FSM because of nan government’s restrictions.

There was besides interest astir nan number of pupils and young children pinch caring responsibilities. Last year, erstwhile nan DfE started collecting nan data, 39,000 pupils identified arsenic young carers. This twelvemonth nan number has risen to 54,000, including 21,000 superior schoolhouse children.

Andy McGowan, a argumentation head astatine nan Carers Trust, said nan existent fig was apt to beryllium acold higher.

“It is estimated location are really 2 young carers successful each class. This shows whoever forms nan adjacent authorities needs to urgently prioritise improving young carer recognition and support. With persistent absence rates for young carers astir doubly arsenic precocious arsenic their peers, this is simply a group of pupils who cannot beryllium ignored,” McGowan said.

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The figures from nan DfE’s schoolhouse census successful January recovered that nan numbers attending schools for typical acquisition needs had besides accrued rapidly.

This twelvemonth 157,000 pupils attended state-funded typical schools successful England, compared pinch 105,000 successful 2015-16, coinciding pinch nan maturation successful children pinch education, wellness and attraction plans.

But nan authorities continues to struggle to support teachers successful authorities schools – nan school workforce grew by conscionable 259 arsenic nan numbers quitting nan occupation remained precocious and less trainees were recruited.

Meanwhile, nan number of coach vacancies has jumped since nan Covid pandemic, from 1,098 full-time posts unfilled successful 2020 to 2,800 successful 2023, arsenic nan pupil organization increases.

Despite reports that nan numbers of children attending backstage schools had fallen – earlier a Labour authorities applying VAT to schoolhouse fees – nan DfE’s figures showed a yearly summation of 1,500 to 593,000.

Source theguardian