§ Mr. Dorrell
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment for what reasons he uses data based on eligibility for, or uptake of, free school meals in setting achievement targets for primary and secondary schools. 
§ Ms Estelle Morris
[holding answer 4 February 1998]: The Government view is that poverty is no excuse for failure. It is for individual schools, in discussion with their LEAs, to set appropriately challenging achievement targets, which reflect national targets such as those for literacy and numeracy. All schools, regardless of the socio-economic characteristics of their pupils, are capable of improvement.