Lack of hot meals skews the stats;Letters;News amp; opinion

5th November 1999 at 00:00
A WEEK is a long time in the reporting of educational standards!

On October 15, The TES ran an article which purported to show that a number of smaller unitary authorities were not achieving the standards that might be expected.

Rewind one week to find the article about boys closing the gender gap at Key Stage 2.

While Milton Keynes was not mentioned, it was quoted by education minister Estelle Morris among a small number of authorities making particularly significant progress.

Our improvement in maths was apparently the second or third greatest overall.

At GCSE our improvement in terms of percentages with more than 5 A*-C grades was three times that nationally.

Figures for free meals' uptake do not reflect actual eligibility in our primaries largely, we think, because for many years there has been no hot meals service in most of our schools.

The eligibility figure in our Standard Spending Assessment is much higher and a detailed analysis of deprivation figures shows a potential 50 per cent discrepancy in the free meals figure for some schools. This gives a more favourable picture of our schools against national benchmarks.

As the leader article rightly suggests, the tables present more questions than answers. In the end, we will take all of the data, put it through various analyses and use it where possible to support our teachers and pupils.

Most of all, at this stage, I would like to credit all of our teachers and their pupils for the huge progress made over the past couple of years, with the support of this new(ish) unitary authority.

Andrew Flack

Director of education and early years services

Milton Keynes council

Editor writes: the free school meals figure used in our analysis was the percentage of pupils eligible for the meals, not the percentage who eat them.

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