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Number of children eligible for free school meals in England (UK) 2015-2020

Over 1.44 million pupils were eligible for free school meals in England in the 2019/20 academic year, compared with 1.27 million pupils in 2018/19. The issue of free school meals came to the fore during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020, when free school meals were replaced by a voucher scheme in the lockdown and Easter holidays. Although the voucher system was initially not supposed to extend to the summer holidays, a pressure campaign by English footballer, Marcus Rashford resulted in a government U-turn, on the issue, resulting in the voucher scheme covering the summer.

Number of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals in England (UK) from 2015/16 to 2019/20

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Source

Release date

September 2020

Region

United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

2015 to 2020

Supplementary notes

The source adds the following information: "Since 1 April 2018, transitional protections have been in place which will continue to be in place during the roll out of Universal Credit. This has meant that pupils eligible for free school meals on or after 1 April 2018 retain their free school meals eligibility even if their circumstances change. This has been the main driver in the increase in the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals as pupils continue to become eligible but fewer pupils stop being eligible."

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Statistics on "Education in the UK"

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