AIBU to think there is a stigma attached to taking up Free School Meals?

(421 Posts)
cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 13:33:35

Would really value MNers experience here. DH and I have had a pretty disastrous year financially (redundancy for DH, drying up of contracts for me). However we are both working hell for leather to turn this around. In the meantime we're eligible for FSM, which frankly would be a big help. I also know that it helps the school gain a Pupil Premium.

But I'm a bit nervous about this. I don't want my daughter to be "targeted for help" as I believe anyone benefiting from FSM is (but perhaps I'm being idiotic - DD could surely use a booster in maths dept.) I also don't want any social stigma attached to this. It's a mixed school socially, but the majority is very middle class. Has anyone had any negative experience of taking this up? Or AIBU and it will all be fine?

HeySoulSister Thu 29-Aug-13 13:35:18

It will all be fine! What on earth do you think will happen?

Are you sure you are even eligible?

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 13:36:59

It will be fine.

Welcome to many ways to save money.

The schools like it.

Incidentally my children attend a really, really middle class village school.

Ofsted outstanding. blah blah

They have a higher than normal amount of FSM recipients!

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 13:37:43

The kids do get one less potato though wink

Goatshavestrangeeyes Thu 29-Aug-13 13:38:16

Honestly? It will be fine.

IME (I was a child who received fsm) other children do not care and I was certainly never bullied for it even though none of my friends were in the same position.

My children do not have fsm but if I was in the situation where I could claim them I would take it up no doubt about it. I couldn't give a shit what other people might or might not think. My children being fed is more important plus it saves the boring job of making sandwiches every day

CockyFox Thu 29-Aug-13 13:39:34

How can there be a stigma attached to it, only you and the school know and they like it because they get more money.
At our school all meals are paid for online so nobody takes dinner money anymore therefore nobody knows who has their meals free.

cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 13:40:20

HeySoul, yes I"m eligible. I suppose in my nightmare scenario there would be a patronising, pitying attitude from the staff, and a shunning from the parents.

God, as I write this it sounds so silly! But you asked...

Tryharder Thu 29-Aug-13 13:41:27

How can people tell?

I pay for school dinners online. No one sees me hand over cash or not if my children were receiving FSM.

In your situation, I would accept the help.

frogwatcher42 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:41:39

Nobody would know unless you told them.

Maryann1975 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:42:02

As fas as I'm aware at my children's primary school no one would even know who has free school meals apart from the office staff, class teacher and higher up school staff. Apart from when they closed the kitchen for a Week and FSM children were given a packed lunch in a brown paper bag rather than bringing one from home. The children were told that this was because so and so had forgotten their lunch, but if you know the families it was because they were free (I'm not being judgey, it's just I knew a couple of the families involved). The school children had no idea of the actual reason.
There is no shame in having had bad luck. You are doing all you can to turn your fortunes round. Claim what you can, this is why the benefits system should be there, to help you out when you need it.

Leeds2 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:42:55

I think in most schools the other children/parents have no idea as to who is in receipt of FSM.

If you are eligible, I think you would be daft not to take advantage of it.

About half the pupils at DD's (eek, from next week DS's school too) school are on FSM, no stigma at all. The teachers are aware of who gets it, because as part of the data collection they have to be able to show that the FSM children are making good progress. The pupils taking lunchboxes are the minority TBH.

Do claim. It also often means that some school trips are cheaper too, esp any residentials.

coppertop Thu 29-Aug-13 13:43:24

No-one will know.

At primary school the money is handed in to the teacher in the morning. No-one in the lunch queue will know who has paid.

At secondary school cashless cards are now the usual method of payment. Again, no-one knows where the money on those cards has come from.

Feminine Thu 29-Aug-13 13:43:24

Don't worry.

Why did you think everyone would know/find out?

You might want to think a little about how you viewed families that are in receipt of them.

Sometimes, it is a little about we might feel wink

neolara Thu 29-Aug-13 13:44:21

The onus on schools is to ensure that children receiving FSM do as well as those not receiving FSM. If you dd is already doing fine, I suspect the school will apply for the pupil premium and put it towards supporting some other child who is struggling. Very many children who receive FSM do not have any additional needs and do absolutely fine. Very many children who do not receive FSM are struggling. The pupil premium is a very crude way of distributing money. I think your school would be absolutely delighted if you applied for FSM.

Floggingmolly Thu 29-Aug-13 13:49:27

I'd never heard of the Pupil Premium until this thread. What an utterly bizarre method of apportioning school funds shock
Are children who's families are struggling financially assumed to have additional needs? shock

englishteacher78 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:50:10

My school's secondary FSM students sign for their dinner. But seeing as the boarders do as well, no one bats an eyelid smile

Runoutofideas Thu 29-Aug-13 13:50:40

I would have absolutely no idea who gets FSMs in either of my daughters' classes. Just apply - it will help you and it will help the school.

cingolimama Thu 29-Aug-13 13:54:25

Thank you all for replying so kindly. It sets my mind at ease and I realise I was worrying over nothing.

frogwatcher42 Thu 29-Aug-13 13:57:04

Floggingmolly - yes in a word.

Our school actively tries to get anybody entitled to FSC to sign up for them even if they don't want to. That way they get the extra money for the Pupil Premium.

SilverApples Thu 29-Aug-13 13:58:42

' I suppose in my nightmare scenario there would be a patronising, pitying attitude from the staff, and a shunning from the parents.'

Bloody hell, what kind of school is your child attending if you think that would be the response? shock You think the staff are patronising and pitying to some children? Have you seen it happen?
No, no-one will know if you get FSM or not. Do you know which children are receiving them in the school at the moment?
The information is confidential.
You are finding things a bit tricky at the moment, grab all the help you can as long as you need it and pay it forwards when you can. Our school also helps out with second-hand uniform, also confidentially. And trips, have a word and she'll be accommodated.
Don't worry, it's happening a lot now. Even in my leafy area, the most unlikely people are heading to the food bank in droves.
It's temporary, let the system be useful for once.

Don't worry! My DC are on FSM and no one really knows as such, it's not a dirty secret or anything, just there's no means for anyone to find out. I worried about what teachers would think/would assume they were trouble, but they don't. It means they get a nice meal and the school are usually very happy due to receiving money.

curlew Thu 29-Aug-13 14:02:16

One of the most reliable predictor of under achievement at school is parental poverty. Obviously, this does not mean that all poor children do badly, but many don't achive as well as hey should for a variety of reasons. FSM is a good indicator of parental poverty. The Pupil Premium is a way helping schools provide enrichment that better off parents can provide themselves. It!s a fantastic initiative.

LifeofPo Thu 29-Aug-13 14:02:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

My kids had free school meals on and off, i think at primary level no one would know, at secondary they got a free school meal card, mine never mentioned anyone saying anything, but we live in a deprived area and lots of the kids were on FSM

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