To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case for providing higher education providers with access to free school meals data at the start of the undergraduate admissions cycle as part of measures to widen access to higher education.
Widening participation is a priority for this government. We want to ensure that everyone with talent and potential to succeed in higher education has the opportunity to do so, regardless of background, ethnicity or where they grew up. Higher education institutions play an important role in achieving this goal through their outreach and widening participation work.
Government has already made available school level data on pupils eligible for free school meals through the ‘Find and compare schools in England’ service and I encourage universities to make use of this. This is available at: https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/.
Universities should also continue to work directly with schools and third sector organisations to spot and nurture talent early. I have asked Department for Education officials to look at ways the department can support the sector, to identify talented pupils and to help assist in targeting outreach activity.