Free school dinner children doing worse in their GCSEs

Melinda Tilley

Melinda Tilley

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

CHILDREN getting free school dinners in Oxfordshire are not achieving the same grades as equivalent pupils elsewhere in the country.

A new report shows 70 per cent of county youngsters whose parents receive benefits are leaving school without five GCSEs at A* to C, including English and maths, compared to 62 per cent nationally.

The Oxfordshire County Council statistics also show that at Key Stage Two level last year, 58 per cent of pupils receiving free meals scored the expected Level Four or more in reading, writing and maths tests – compared to 80 per cent of their fellow students.

The figures come from a report to the council’s education scrutiny committee which will meet tomorrow.

Written by Frances Craven, deputy director for education and early intervention, it says the achievements of GSCE-level pupils getting free dinners last year ranked them 125th out of 152 authorities nationwide.

She also said the achievement gap between the two groups had been decreasing since 2010, but had widened again last year, and that more pupils were now receiving free meals – with 450 getting them in 2009 compared to 540 last year.

Jem Todd, a team leader at youth project Thrive Barton, said he thought more could be done to help such children.

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He said: “I would love to see the county council doing more things that aren’t academic for young people, things which are more skills based.

“We hold a Young Achievers Dinner where they cook for 120 guests and plan everything for the event.

“There is definitely more which can be done in Oxford and I would love to see schools linking in with partner organisations to work together for the benefit of young people.”

The report also says children with free school dinners are achieving similar rates of five or more GCSEs, but were below the national average when it came to grades between A* and C, adding: “This indicates that it is achieving the higher grades which is the potential challenge for this group of children.”

County council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said everyone needed to take more responsibility for the issue.

She added: “It is a real worry that these children are not achieving.

“There is no logical reason why those on free school meals shouldn’t achieve these grades. We need to be doing more.

“I think it is something everybody needs to take more responsibility for.”

Pupils qualify for free school dinners if their parents are receiving certain benefits including Jobseekers Allowance, and help under the Immigration and Asylum Act.

The report also showed Asian pupils in Oxfordshire were performing below the national average at GCSE level.

The figures show 51 per cent of Asian pupils in the county achieved at least five GCSEs at A* to C, including English and maths, compared to 65 per cent nationally.

It also shows that 56.1 per cent of boys in the county acheived at least five GCSEs at A* to C, including English and maths, compared to 65.2 per cent of girls.

Nationally, 55.9 per cent of boys achieve those grades compared to 65.9 per cent of girls.

There are, in total, 88,000 children at all primary and secondary schools in the county.

Comments (5)

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2:23pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It's the statistic that every parent has focussed on for years...

If you want your child to be successful at school, choose the school which has the lowest proportion of children receving free school meals.
It's the statistic that every parent has focussed on for years... If you want your child to be successful at school, choose the school which has the lowest proportion of children receving free school meals. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

2:35pm Wed 2 Apr 14

The New Private Eye says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
It's the statistic that every parent has focussed on for years...

If you want your child to be successful at school, choose the school which has the lowest proportion of children receving free school meals.
Andrew, if one is receiving benefits how does one afford a house in The Cherwell School's catchment area? But the main problem is that the parents put their little ones in front of the TV all day, and then spend all their time on Facebook, instead of spending time reading and doing stimulating things with their children, it is not the school's fault that by the time their pupils tip up for the first day of school that they (the pupils) have the mental age of a two year old, and as much interest in learning, as a Tiger does in becoming vegetarian.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: It's the statistic that every parent has focussed on for years... If you want your child to be successful at school, choose the school which has the lowest proportion of children receving free school meals.[/p][/quote]Andrew, if one is receiving benefits how does one afford a house in The Cherwell School's catchment area? But the main problem is that the parents put their little ones in front of the TV all day, and then spend all their time on Facebook, instead of spending time reading and doing stimulating things with their children, it is not the school's fault that by the time their pupils tip up for the first day of school that they (the pupils) have the mental age of a two year old, and as much interest in learning, as a Tiger does in becoming vegetarian. The New Private Eye
  • Score: 2

3:23pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

The New Private Eye wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
It's the statistic that every parent has focussed on for years...

If you want your child to be successful at school, choose the school which has the lowest proportion of children receving free school meals.
Andrew, if one is receiving benefits how does one afford a house in The Cherwell School's catchment area? But the main problem is that the parents put their little ones in front of the TV all day, and then spend all their time on Facebook, instead of spending time reading and doing stimulating things with their children, it is not the school's fault that by the time their pupils tip up for the first day of school that they (the pupils) have the mental age of a two year old, and as much interest in learning, as a Tiger does in becoming vegetarian.
21% of children at Cherwell School get free school meals...
[quote][p][bold]The New Private Eye[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: It's the statistic that every parent has focussed on for years... If you want your child to be successful at school, choose the school which has the lowest proportion of children receving free school meals.[/p][/quote]Andrew, if one is receiving benefits how does one afford a house in The Cherwell School's catchment area? But the main problem is that the parents put their little ones in front of the TV all day, and then spend all their time on Facebook, instead of spending time reading and doing stimulating things with their children, it is not the school's fault that by the time their pupils tip up for the first day of school that they (the pupils) have the mental age of a two year old, and as much interest in learning, as a Tiger does in becoming vegetarian.[/p][/quote]21% of children at Cherwell School get free school meals... Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

3:31pm Wed 2 Apr 14

The New Private Eye says...

Unlike over 80% at Oxford Spires, and 70% at Cheney and whatever they call Peers now, who's parents claim some kind of benefit. You will find that the two council estates plus Ryder Close and Rackham Place cover your 21% at Cherwell. The difference being that those children are in the massive minority, and peer pressure leans towards learning, whereas for the minority in the above mentioned schools, peer pressure discourages learning.
Unlike over 80% at Oxford Spires, and 70% at Cheney and whatever they call Peers now, who's parents claim some kind of benefit. You will find that the two council estates plus Ryder Close and Rackham Place cover your 21% at Cherwell. The difference being that those children are in the massive minority, and peer pressure leans towards learning, whereas for the minority in the above mentioned schools, peer pressure discourages learning. The New Private Eye
  • Score: 2

3:39pm Wed 2 Apr 14

The New Private Eye says...

Andrew, sorry I forgot to mention I went to Redefield in the 70's and left with 5 O levels A,B,b,B,C, but I was strong enough to ignore the bullying, but most of my classmates left with nothing, well not exactly nothing but D's and E's. Again as I say it is not the school. but the pupils aspirations, and the parents understanding that an education does really matter.
Andrew, sorry I forgot to mention I went to Redefield in the 70's and left with 5 O levels A,B,b,B,C, but I was strong enough to ignore the bullying, but most of my classmates left with nothing, well not exactly nothing but D's and E's. Again as I say it is not the school. but the pupils aspirations, and the parents understanding that an education does really matter. The New Private Eye
  • Score: 2

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