SCOTLAND

Concentrations of poor children

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Poor children are much more concentrated in primary schools than in secondary schools.
  • Because of this concentration, the perception of poor children in primary schools is that there are many more poor children than there actually are.  For example, those eligible for free school meals have, on average, 30% of the pupils in their school eligible for free school meals whereas those not eligible for free school meals have, on average, 15% of the pupils in their school eligible for free school meals.
  • Overall, the geographic pattern of primary schools with high proportions eligible for free school meals is similar to the pattern of geographic areas with high proportions of the total population on low incomes.  So, for example, most primary schools in Glasgow have a high proportion of their children eligible for free school meals.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows that, on average in 2006:

  • For children in primary schools eligible for free school meals, an average of 31% of the children in the school are eligible for free school meals.
  • For children in primary schools not eligible for free school meals, an average of 16% of the children in the school are eligible for free school meals.
  • For children in secondary schools eligible for free school meals, an average of 21% of the children in the school are eligible for free school meals.
  • For children in secondary schools not eligible for free school meals, an average of 13% of the children in the school are eligible for free school meals.

Pupils entitled to free school meals are those within families who receive Income Support (IS) or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (IBJSA).  Those within families who receive support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 may also be entitled.  Children who receive IS or IBJSA in their own right are also entitled to receive free school meals.  Also entitled are children whose parents or carers receive Child Tax Credit, do not receive Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by the HM Revenue & Customs) of below £14,155 (in 2006).

The third graph shows how the proportion of local education primary schools which are in the fifth of schools with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals varies by local authority.  To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average of the latest three years.

The data source for both graphs is an annual survey of school meals, using the dataset underlying the Scottish Government’s publications entitled School meals in Scotland.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  While the underlying data is sound, its relationship to other aspects of poverty and social exclusion is not immediately clear.