It has been revealed that around a million children in Britain who are eligible for free, subsidised school meals are actually not receiving them. The Guardian reports today that the system used to decide whether pupils are eligible for school meals is derived from income level, rather than the levels used to define the relative poverty line.
It’s clear that there is a glaring mistake in how the state of want and poverty is measured and how to measure it. If the official definition of the poverty line exists, the question remains why it is not being used to generate a funding requirement for school meals? It should be made clear how the level of poverty is defined, it is nonsensical to have it shifting according to the social service provided.
Another factor to the whole problem is that schools receive increased funding for ‘deprived’ pupils, using the number of those eligible for school meals as an indicator of need. This is clearly intended to encourage schools to take in more ‘deprived’ pupils. What this mess really is indicative of, is the way the government has allowed schools to become little enterprises, worried about securing funding. and thinking by numbers to achieve it. Labour MP Frank Field has decided to go off on his own fantasy social science project lauding the existence of the pre-World War II education system consisting of ‘independant schools’ and how democratic they were, which doesn’t seem to explain why poor children still generally went hungry and had a generally bad education that didn’t lead to much past age 12-14. This sort of view encourages a government obsessed with decentralising and privatising the world.
A major problem exists where a large section of the public is actually dependant on secure government support for some services, yet goes along with a wild-eyed fanatical support of private enterprise for funding them, a plan with a consistent record of patchy success, of corruption and failure. Any public support is ammunition for the Labour government hell-bent on getting the market into every facet of life. People should expect more poorer children to be going hungry at school unless the current economic mantra changes.