Half a million extra kids are to qualify for Pupil Premium, according to reports
12/12/2011 - 00:00

The Department for Education has announced that half a million extra pupils are now to qualify for the Pupil Premium, one of the additional benefits provided to children registered for free school meals.

The support is to be extended to all children who have been registered for free school meals in the last six years.

In 2009-10 GCSE statistics showed that around a third of pupils who have been on Free School Meals in the previous six years achieved five or more A*- C grades, compared to more than two thirds of their fellow pupils.  Pupils at secondary school are also less likely to be registered for Free School Meals even when they are eligible and so are more likely to be picked up by this approach.

Total funding is set to rise to £2.5 billion a year by 2014-15.

Children's minister Sarah Teather said: "For too long social background has been a deciding factor in a child's achievement and future prospects. In a fair society, it's the Government's responsibility to close the gulf in achievement, where the poorest children are less likely to leave school with five good GCSEs than their less deprived classmates.

"That's why I'm delighted we are today announcing the increase in the per pupil level of the Pupil Premium for 2012-13, as well as extending the eligibility to reach more children. It will help school tackle the inequalities that have been a part of our state system for far too long. Thousands of children will finally be getting the extra support they need to succeed."

Chief executive of The School Food Trust Judy Hargadon, added: "This is why it's never been so important that everyone working with children and families is doing everything they can to encourage them to take up free school meals if they qualify.

"By doing so they are first making sure that children can have a healthy lunch every day - which can sometimes be the only proper meal they eat in a day and can save families on a low income hundreds of pounds a year - then also that they don't miss out on extra support which comes with free school meals, like the Pupil Premium.

"We're still concerned that far too many families either don't know that they qualify for free school meals or are put off from taking them for many different reasons – for some it might be the application process which seems difficult; for others it might be that queues in the canteen mean pupils don't want to wait for their lunch.

"The School Food Trust's Free School Meals Matter campaign is working with schools across the country to help them tackle all these issues so that free school meals reach all children who need them."