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From my experience as a Parent Governor in a primary school in Greater London:
  1. children of families on benefits above a certain level are aligible for free school meals
  2. the fraction of pupils eligible for school meals is taken as a key socioeconomic indicator when comparing results across schools, nationally
  3. in the primary school where I was, school meals were paid weekly to the local educational authority, but were collected by the class teacher. Unless someone was keeping tabs on which parents or children never gave the teacher a "dinner money envelope" there was no way to know which children were on free school meals. In particular, all children were given the same food choices at lunch time.
  4. the school system seemed to take privacy as a child protection issue and child protection was taken very seriously so having children be stigmatised for being on free school meals would raise all kinds of alarms
Maybe I had a too rosy picture of the theory and the reality was different, but I doubt it.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:03:57 AM EST
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