Commenting on latest figures
which show an increase in the proportion of children eligible for free school meals, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“The increase in free school meal eligibility over the course of the pandemic illustrates the financial impact on many families. Child poverty was already a terrible blight on our society prior to coronavirus. The situation is now even worse and tackling this issue simply has to be a top priority for the government. This is a crucial part of educational as well as societal recovery because children are much more likely to learn effectively if they are not struggling with the impact of financial hardship.
“These statistics also suggest the extent to which the government has short-changed schools by a technical change to the way in which pupil premium money to support disadvantaged pupils is allocated. In deciding to base this allocation on the October school census rather than the January census, schools will have missed out on funding for those children who became eligible in the interim. These statistics show that the number of pupils eligible for free school meals increased by 100,000 in this period which indicates a very large funding hole. Whatever the motivation for this change in the rules the result is nothing short of shameful.”