Today’s blog looks at coverage of a Children’s Society report into the wellbeing of young people, and misleading reporting on Schools Week’s website about free school meals.
Good childhood report
Today the Children’s Society published its annual Good Childhood report, a survey of young people aged 10 to 15. The report found that one in seven of all girls were unhappy with their lives overall while a third were unhappy with their looks. In contrast, the proportion of boys who are unhappy with their lives has remained stable at one in nine.
The story is covered in today’s Times, the Daily Mail, and the BBC’s website as well as on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield was interviewed on Good Morning Britain and suggested social media as one reason for increasing anxiety among young people. She also reflected the investment in mental health support in schools that the government is making. This is a joint lead between the Department of Health and the Department for Education.
A Government spokesperson said:
We want every young person to grow up feeling supported and confident about their future. We are working with schools, parents and the media to help improve young people's resilience, boost their confidence and tackle bullying.
The right help for young people is vital which is why we are working to improve the mental health support available as part of an ambitious five year programme backed by an additional £1.4 billion investment.
Universal infant free school meals
Schools Week has incorrectly reported that the Department for Education “cut” the transitional funding that was made available to small schools to help them move to universal infant free school meals in 2014.
This is inaccurate. When the policy to give all infant pupils a free meal at lunchtime was introduced, the department recognised that smaller schools would face additional challenges in doing this. To help, we provided £32.5 million of transitional funding to them, in addition to more than £600 million spent on the policy as a whole. The money was initially made available on a one off basis to help smaller schools with overheads associated with the policy, such as putting in new kitchen equipment. A second, extra, pool of money was made available in 2015 but it was always clear that this was not a long term fund, and therefore it is not correct to suggest it has been cut.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
To help small schools with the transition to universal infant free school meals, £32.5 milllion was invested to help them put their meals service on a sustainable footing. This was in addition to more than £600 million a year for the policy as a whole. We were always clear that this was not long term funding.