50,000 extra pupils eligible for free school meals under new Government proposals – Friday 17 November 2017

This week I report on the Government’s consultation on a new earnings threshold for pupils eligible for free school meals, the announcement of the coasting schools measure for 2017, new health eating guidance for the early years sector and new KS3 and 4 lesson plans on surviving terror attacks.

An ‘extra 50,000 pupils’ eligible for free school meals under new Government proposals
The Government estimates an extra 50,000 pupils will receive free school meals under proposals for a new earnings threshold put out for consultation yesterday.  Under the proposals, developed in response to the roll-out of the new benefits system, pupils from universal credit-claiming households with incomes of up to £24,000 will be eligible for free school meals. This is higher than the £16,200 earnings threshold that currently entitles pupils to free meals.

Universal credit is currently being rolled out in some areas of the country, replacing several different benefits that currently dictate which pupils can claim free school meals. This also affects schools’ pupil premium funding, which is based on free school meals’ claimant numbers.

2017 ‘coasting schools’ threshold announced
The Department for Education (DfE) has announced the 2017 threshold for the ‘coasting schools’ measure, which is the same as it was in 2016. The coasting measure looks at a school’s performance over 3 years, so for schools to be classed as ‘coasting’ they will need to fall below the thresholds for 2017, 2016 and 2015.

Schools defined as coasting by the Government can be targeted for intervention. For local authority maintained schools, this could include forced transfer to an academy sponsor, while coasting academies could face being re-brokered to a new sponsor.

Healthy eating guidance published for the early years sector
The DfE, together with the Department of Health and Public Health England, has published new example menus and recipes to support early years providers with planning healthy meals for children, and to help them meet the EYFS framework welfare requirements.

New lesson plans on surviving terror attacks
Advice for pupils on how to survive terrorist gun and knife attacks is to be made available to schools across the country for the first time. Lesson plans for Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils have been produced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and the PSHE Association, and are backed by the Department for Education.

The materials are an extension of the government’s Run, Hide, Tell campaign and address the threat of terrorist attacks in crowded places. A separate lesson plan has been devised by St John Ambulance. Called TREAT, it aims to teach pupils life-saving first-aid techniques to use if they need to help someone who has been stabbed or shot.