Pupils still shun FSM

Written by: HTU | Published:

A quarter of youngsters who are entitled to free school meals (FSM) take packed lunches instead because they are afraid of being stigmatised.

A quarter of youngsters who are entitled to free school meals (FSM) take packed lunches instead because they are afraid of being stigmatised.



A study by the Institute for Social and Economic Research has found that around 300,000 out of more than 1.1 million UK children who qualify for FSM do not take them.



The research, Take-up of Free School Meals: Price effects and peer effects, found two over-riding reasons. In many schools, lack of space means that children eating school dinners sit separately from those who bring packed lunches, so pupils on FSM often have to sit apart from their friends. Also, some schools have cash payment and FSM children feel embarrassed at having to hand in vouchers instead.



The financial cost to parents if a child does not take up FSM is £400 a year. Schools themselves lose their Pupil Premium funding of £600 per child (rising to £900 from next year).



Researchers point out that the Scottish government's 2007/08 experiment to give FSM to all children between the ages of five and eight in areas of high deprivation raised take-up. So did anonymous payment schemes, where parents pre-registered to pay or to receive the payment online.




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