Number of children eligible for free school meals rises to nearly 2 million
Data reveals that over the last three years, the number of children eligible for Free School Meals has increased by a shocking 49%.
The number of children eligible for free school meals has risen to 1.9 million, according to newly released figures from the government.
Data reveals that over the last three years, the number of children eligible for Free School Meals has increased by a shocking 49%. As of January 2022, 1.9 million pupils were eligible for free school meals, 22.5% of all pupils. This is an increase of nearly 160,000 pupils since January 2021.
Amid a soaring cost of living crisis, 22.5 percent of pupils in England now qualify for free school meals.
The newly released data has also revealed stark regional differences. In the South East, 17.6% of pupils are eligible for free school meals.
Pupils in the North East meanwhile were the most likely to qualify for free school meals on 29.1%, followed by the West Midlands, where 26.5% are eligible for free lunch provision, according to the annual school census.
Responding to the shocking figures, Julie McCulloch, policy director at the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was “shocking that in one of the world’s wealthiest economies we are seeing a very significant increase in the number of children eligible for free school meals, and therefore living in extremely difficult financial circumstances”.
Rather than levelling up, as the Tories have repeatedly claimed they are doing, the latest figures show once more how inequality and poverty are only widening.
Basit Mahmood is the editor of Left Foot Forward
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