Jewish pupils three times less likely to get free school meals

Jewish pupils three times less likely to get free school meals

Only 4.2 percent of students at Jewish schools were eligible for free meals, compared to the national average of nearly 15

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Children at Jewish schools in the UK are three and a half times less likely to be eligible for free school meals than the national average, government data has revealed.

From 17,241 pupils at state-funded Jewish primary and secondary schools across the country, 735 were eligible, or 4.2 percent, because their family income was below a certain level, compared to a national average of 14.8 percent.

The figure for children at Jewish schools, released in response to a parliamentary question, excludes more than 4,000 children in independent Jewish schools in London and Manchester, and any Jewish children studying in non-Jewish schools.

The data at times show marked differences between London and other regions. At London’s JFS, where 1,482 children study, only 24 children were on free school meals (FSM), while at Leeds Jewish Free School, almost 19 percent were eligible.

In London, figures were higher in Orthodox schools, with nearly one in ten pupils on FSM at Beis Yaakov Primary School for Girls, and almost one in nine taking free meals at Pardes House Primary School for Boys.

In Redbridge, more children qualified for FSM than in other areas of London. At King Solomon High School, 19.5 percent of children were eligible, while more than 10 percent qualified at Wohl Ilford Primary School.

Nationally, the proportion of children claiming free school meals has reduced from a previous high of 18 percent of primary school children in 2012-13.

The information was released in response to a question from Labour’s Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, who challenged the government’s recent decision to remove the 50 percent cap on faith-based schools admissions, asking whether this instead “defines inclusivity by income”.

Caroline Dinenage MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years, said the Department for Education’s decision to remove the 50 percent cap and replace it with “a series of safeguards to ensure new faith free schools are inclusive” was “based on a broad range of evidence”.

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