Concern for county children on free school meals

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INVESTIGATIONS are underway to find out why there is a big attainment gap between two groups of pupils in a number of county schools.

The proportion of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) in Northumberland is relatively low compared to the North East region and nationally.

But in 2012, only 61 per cent of pupils on FSM achieved Level 4 in English and maths at Key Stage 2, compared to 82 percent of their non-FSM peers in the authority.

And only 26 per cent of students on FSM were able to get five or more A* to C GCSE grades including English and maths, as opposed to 62 per cent for other students in the county.

A week of co-ordinated inspections by Ofsted is currently taking place to look into this matter as well as the under-performance of some secondary, middle and high schools in Northumberland – although the latter issue does not apply to schools in Morpeth and Ponteland.

Nick Hudson, regional director for the North East and Yorkshire and Humber, said: “The proportion of children on free school meals in the county is relatively low and therefore it is even more of a worry that there is a significant attainment gap for these children compared to their peers within the authority, in the North East region and nationally. This is an unacceptable situation.”