To be upset by this teacher's comment about children receiving free school dinners?

(155 Posts)
cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:03:36

I have recently split up with my DP. We have 3 DC's 2 of which are at school. As I have been a SAHM since having children I have had to claim benefits until I can get sorted. I found out this week that my school age children will be receiving free school meals as of Monday.
I went for coffee at a good friend's this morning after the school run and another of her friends popped round whilst I was there. She's a part time teacher at a primary school ( not DC's school) and my friend was asking how work was etc. During the course of the conversation while discussing her work load she mentioned that as there was only 9 free school meal children at ther school now (v. small school) then her workload wasn't as great as these types of kids needed more imput hmm. My friend asked her to clarify and she said well they're more time consuming and needed more attention. To me she was implying that children in receipt of free school meals obviously have social problems within the family and maybe behavioural issues??
I'm upset to say the least.

Bogeyface Wed 06-Feb-13 13:08:14

She sounds a proper charmer. My children are currently on FSM because my H got made redundant and I was a SAHM, by her logic my DC have gone from being no trouble to needing more time and input based purely on the fact that they no longer take a packed lunch!

I would have called her on it when she said it tbh, because if no one tells her she is talking bollocks then she will continue to do so.

mademred Wed 06-Feb-13 13:10:13

OMG! Wat a bitch.i would be upset too.our children have free school meals and they do not need special help.this woman sounds too far up her own backside.

Andro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:14

She was insensitive and guilty of a blanket statement, some discretion would have been appropriate I think.

With that said, perhaps it has been her experience that children on free school meals have needed more input? It doesn't make what she said appropriate, but she may well have been extrapolating (and when you do that from a small sample you very often get it wrong - irrespective of whether the sample is children, experimental results or anything else!).

unclefluffy Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:40

I found out the other day that schools get extra money for each child taking FSMs. It's interesting because it compounds the view that kids who get FSM are 'trouble' BUT it means that teachers should be doing their best to squash those thoughts in case it puts anyone off claiming. Our school wants MORE kids to claim the FSMs they are entitled to.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Wed 06-Feb-13 13:11:53

Free school meals seems to be a way to categorise those children receiving them and I agree that it is appallling! I am a childminder and a similar attitude exists with 2yr old children who qualify for Free Early Education.

Even some of my CM colleagues label children receiving this funding as being a "funded child" or a FEET child (Free Early Education for Two year olds - hence FEET which is a term used by our local authority).

YANBU and I am not suprised in the least that it upset you.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 06-Feb-13 13:12:00

To be fair, the number of children receiving FSMs is widely used as a measure of how disadvantaged an intake a school has. The pupil premium that is attached to FSMs exists for a reason.

That's not to say that every child who gets FSMs need extra input, but they often do, for a variety of reasons. That's why schools get extra money for them.

cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:12:11

Tbh I was so shocked I just couldn't speak. If someone who is supposed to be intelligent believes that then what hope is there. I feel crap enough having to do it anyway.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:13:06

Perhaps she was talking about the particular children she had taught?

Still a strange thing to say though.

Unless she was made to give those kids more input because they do say that kids on FSM are less likely to succeed at school than those who don't have FSM.

So perhaps that was the School's way of making sure those kids got the extra help they might have needed?

meditrina Wed 06-Feb-13 13:13:52

Deeply tactless

But %age FSM is often used as a marker of wider deprivation and there is a strong correlation with poor outcomes. That's of use at a "population" level, and targeting of resources. But of course is no indicator whatsoever for any individual child.

Hammy02 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:14:30

There may be some truth in it there being a correlation then.

cory Wed 06-Feb-13 13:14:43

It is very worrying: research has shown that self fulfilling prophecies have a lot to do with how children cope at school; a teacher with this attitude could make it a lot harder for a child to succeed.

Tweasels Wed 06-Feb-13 13:15:13

Of course all children are from different backgrounds and it is not a reliable indicator but schools get more funding for those students on FSM as in many but NOT ALL cases it does identify a social problem.

CrumbyCrumbs Wed 06-Feb-13 13:15:35

YANBU! That is a hideous comment from anyone, especially a teacher! Children should not be judged, especially by the fact they have free school meals! It sounds to me like she is associating free school meals with a "lower social class" (god I hate that term) and associating the "lower social class" with social and behavioural problems and therefore need extra help and attention which is outrageous!

Whydobabiescry Wed 06-Feb-13 13:16:48

This woman was very insensitive as there are plenty of children on fsm who do not need extra help or have social problems.

However I feel that I know where this woman was coming from as schools have to categorise their pupils by whether they get fsm or not. This is a very rough indicator of need, ie if you qualify for fsm generally you come from a lower income family and yes unfortunately the stats bear out that these children do tend to do worse at school, not be as supported and require additional resources. The school also receives additional funding for every child on fsm so the additional needs can be met.

Like I say it's a very rough indicator but other that is the measure that the government use.

Startail Wed 06-Feb-13 13:17:42

The government do this FSM are used as a very crude indicator of the social make up of a school.

There is even money called the pupil premium attached to
help this group.

It is clearly a very lazy way of identifying DCs with additional needs as divorcing parents and working family's suddenly facing redundancy, may be grateful for a short term financial hand, but their DCs are not in need of support at school.

Well, she was not a teacher at your school, and she was not talking about your children, so not sure why you are upset.

Not sure why it should hurt and upset you that schools have procedures in place to increase funding to help children who could be disadvantaged and needing more support.

However, seeing as this friend did not know you, she should have had more tact.
She might have simply thought that your family is sorted, seeing as you have been enjoying the luxury of not working and staying home with three children. I guess she just assume this did not apply to you at all.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 06-Feb-13 13:18:11

The harsh truth is most teachers would expect a group of 100 free school meals kids to be more of a handful than 100 non free school meal kids.

Obviously there will be some angels in both grouos and some complete horrors in both groups.

I think this woman was a bit insensitive though.

cafebistro Wed 06-Feb-13 13:18:26

I didn't realise that the school got extra funding?? That's interesting. My children aren't going to become problem kids because they're now having 'hot dinners' instead of sandwiches everyday.

No they are not going to be problem children because of hot dinners.

But, they may be needing help and support if they are upset that dad has left the family unit, and mum cannot afford to make them sarnies.

Whydobabiescry Wed 06-Feb-13 13:20:25

Children entitled to fsm can choose a hot meal or a packed lunch at ds's school.

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Feb-13 13:20:52

I didn't realise that the school got extra funding?? That's interesting. My children aren't going to become problem kids because they're now having 'hot dinners' instead of sandwiches everyday.

It's not just about food though is it?

Poverty brings many problems to families and kids often have to bear the brunt.

Hammy02 Wed 06-Feb-13 13:21:21

It isn't the food itself that makes the difference!

bigbluebus Wed 06-Feb-13 13:22:13

There is clearly a link between free school meals and academic achievement as someone has pointed out, extra funding is available for schools for this group and Ofsted comment on the numbers on free school meals in their reports. However, as an 'educated' person this teacher should have more sense and realise that some children who are on FSM are not from 'deprived' backgrounds, merely victims of circumstance. My son's school also regularly encourages pupils to apply for FSM even if they don't intend to eat them, because of the extra money the school gets, and in reminding parents that they might be entitled to claim, they refer to 'changing circumstances particularly in the current economic climate'

If free food was giving children behavioural problems, dont you think this would have been one of the first things this government would scrap?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now