Amber Rudd MP: House to Home - January 2011

Amber Rudd MP
Amber Rudd MP

THE feeling of going back to school at the start of January never quite leaves even the more mature of us children who left school many years ago.

After the break, and the slow week of the first of January, the reality hits with the first full week of work and the first proper week of school. The feeling of a fresh start, of New Year’s resolutions still as yet unbroken (and the credit card bills not yet on the door step) lend a gentle optimism to the start of the year.

But I would like to draw your attention to an urgent and serious campaign to focus on, which has a life of only two weeks this year. This Government has introduced a “pupil premium”, ie additional funds to help support the teaching of children from more disadvantaged families. The Lib Dem part of the Coalition has done well to make this a priority. This year all eligible children will attract an additional £430 per head. That will rise over the next four years.

In order to be eligible for the “pupil premium” which provides much-needed additional funds to schools with children from disadvantaged families, the children need to be registered for Free School Meals. Eligibility for Free School Meals is based on parental income.

But, the problem is that some parents are reluctant to register. In the past, this merely meant that the children who might have been eligible didn’t get the free school meal, and this may have been because a parent wanted for instance, to make the lunch themselves. But in this new world of using the free school meal eligibility to measure need and therefore extra funds to support young people it is imperative that all children who are eligible are registered.

This is for primary and secondary schools. Whether your child goes to school at Rye College or is still attending one of our village primary schools – they could be eligible.

Schools are aware of this and will be campaigning to make sure that everyone eligible is registered. But, this needs to be on the school roll for the next census – cut-off date January 20. It is vital that all pupils who can be registered are registered. Pass the word around. The schools need our support. 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.