Question to the Department for Education:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children eligible for free school meals are not registered to receive them.
Responsibility for free school meals and disadvantage policy is devolved and is therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations.
In England, free school meal eligibility is used as a proxy measure for allocating the pupil premium. This remains the best available measure at an individual pupil level and the most reliable predictor of academic underperformance. Focusing pupil premium on pupils who have claimed free school meals in the past 6 years ensures schools have additional resources to tackle the educational impact of household economic deprivation.
The continuing provision of free school meals to children from out of work families or those on low incomes is of the utmost importance to this government. Take-up of free school meals is strong, estimated at 89% of eligible pupils.
We want to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals. We also provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.