Our research looks at the effects of disadvantage on young people's educational attainment and employment outcomes and how, together with our charity partners, we can improve the life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Young people from poor families are half as likely to gain essential English and maths GCSEs and go to university compared to their better-off peers. White working class boys on free school meals are the lowest performing group at GCSE.
Young people from poor families are three times less likely to be in a job or course after leaving school. They're also less likely to keep a job.
So how do we define disadvantage? At Impetus, we use ‘Ever 6 FSM’, which means young people who have been looked after, in care, or eligible for free school meals in the past six years.
So who should be entitled to free school meals? We believe that:
- The eligibility criteria for free school meals must identify disadvantaged young people who need extra support to succeed, to target resources like the pupil premium effectively.
- Giving free school meals to everyone claiming university credit would not be an effective targeting of resources.
- The government could do more to ensure disadvantaged young people are identified and supported.
- The new free school meals eligibility criteria should screen out children who are not disadvantaged.
- The government should ensure that the data for measuring outcomes for disadvantaged young people isn’t rendered useless by:
- the number of changes to the eligibility criteria for free school meals, or
- the fact different places are rolling over to universal credit at different times.
Read about Impetus' other policy areas including: