The latest edition of the council’s free newspaper, Lutonline, leads with a front page story about a new council campaign to get more people to claim for free school meals. The story claims that more than 5,000 children in Luton are missing out on the free school meals they are entitled to. So the Council wants to make sure that the number of parents claiming rises.
This is a good thing. Over recent years we have become more aware of the importance of proper nutrition in the development of children and we know that it is the poorest within society who most often find it difficult to provide a proper balanced diet. School meals can make a huge difference to this problem. So it is only right that all those who are eligible are encouraged to sign up to receive these meals for free
But why launch this campaign now?
Aside from the obvious direct benefit of getting more people to sign up for free school meals, there is another good reason why councils should be encouraging this. The number of children receiving free school meals is the basis for calculating the pupil premium. For every pupil that gets free school meals that a school has attending it receives a sum of money. In the first year it was £488.
The pupil premium is a way of directing school funding to the neediest pupils. Luton is exactly the kind of area that should be benefiting most from the pupil premium. As I have written here before in its first year it has meant £3,642,000 coming to the town’s schools. If there truly are 5,000 plus pupils who could claim free school meals but aren’t then the town is missing out on a lot of cash.
The introduction of the pupil premium is one of the flagship policies of the coalition government, and something that was insisted on by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.
Funnily enough the article in Lutonline, published by Labour run Luton Borough Council, doesn’t mention the pupil premium at all. I wonder why?
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.