To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to ensure that wider provision of free school meals does not affect take-up of pupil premium funding.
The Department for Education has communicated with schools and local authorities to remind them of the importance of working with parents to encourage those who meet the benefits-based free school meals (FSM) criteria to continue to register their entitlement. The department has made advice and guidance available to help them to do so, based on best practice and lessons learned in areas which have previously offered universal FSM whilst successfully maintaining their registration rates.
This includes the publication of a model registration form, based on forms developed by those areas, which schools can choose to us as part of their enrolment process to gather information from parents to enable them to undertake FSM eligibility checks.
We are looking closely at the data on registration for benefits-based FSM gathered through the January 2015 school census, and will take appropriate action if the census shows a significant drop in registration rates among infant-age pupils.
We are also exploring what opportunities exist for the more efficient identification of disadvantaged pupils, particularly in the context of Universal Credit being rolled out nationally.