SCHOOLS across 1066 Country could benefit from a bonus £1million in funding thanks to a new government scheme.
The newly-launched Pupil Premium will see headteachers given an extra £430 for each pupil in their school who benefits from free school meals.
And, with more than 2,000 youngsters currently qualifying for the scheme locally, Hastings schools are in line to get around £1.3million in extra cash.
This sum will be on top of the amount already allocated for schoolchildren and could fund extra one-to-one classes, breakfast clubs or after-school sessions. Each headteacher will be allowed to spend the grant however they best see fit and those behind the idea believe it will help poorer students succeed at school.
Pupil Premiums were one of the key pre-election commitments of the Lib Dems, and local campaigner Nick Perry has welcomed their introduction.
He said: “This is another important example of how Lib Dem ministers are making a difference in government. This money for Hastings would not be available but for Lib Dem priorities within the Coalition.
“It will help improve the social mobility and life chances of hundreds of Hastings children from less privileged backgrounds.”
The funding is set to increase each year until 2015 and the town’s current MP, Conservative Amber Rudd, believes Hastings could benefit even more if all those eligible for free school meals signed up.
Ms Rudd said: “We currently have 21.7 per cent of pupils eligible, against a national average for England of 14.8 per cent. The problem is that some parents are reluctant to register.
“In the past, this merely meant that children who might have been eligible didn’t get a free school meal, and this may have been because a parent wanted to make the lunch themselves.
“But in this new world of using the free school meal eligibility to measure need and therefore extra funds it is imperative that all children who are eligible are registered. The children don’t have to eat the meatballs (good though they may be); they just need to be registered as eligible so our community can get the help it needs.”
And it was a sentiment echoed by Helenswood headteacher Lucy Monk, who told the Observer: “We are pleased that the Coalition has recognised a need to financially support the education of students in receipt of free school meals.
“If parents have not currently registered their need I know that all headteachers of local schools will be very happy to hear from them.
“The funding will be used to support students to achieve their full potential and support the continuing upward trend in achievement for all.”