HC Deb 17 June 2002 vol 387 c13W
Dr. Murrison

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the validity of the use of the number of children receiving free school meals as an indicator of need in garrison towns. [56048]

Mr. Stephen Twigg

None, specifically in connection with garrison towns. Within the data collected by the Department annually from schools, the proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is an established indicator of socio-economic disadvantage. It has been used by the Department as one measure for grouping schools to allow comparisons of the performance of similar schools in the autumn package of pupil performance. This package is provided to assist them in the process of target setting and school improvement.

The Department is now engaged in a programme of establishing measures of pupil progress from one Key Stage to the next, and it is proposed that this year's secondary schools performance tables will contain two indicators of 'value added' based on such information.