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Our research shows that children in receipt of Free School Meals are more likely to experience bullying than their peers.
Free school meals are for children whose parents receive certain benefits (or who are receive those benefits themselves). In January 2022, there were around 1.9 million pupils known to eligible for Free School Meals.
Our research, through our pupil bullying and wellbeing questionnaire, conducted over a number of years has shown us time and again that children in receipt of Frees School Meals are more likely to be bullied than their peers. Very little is known currently about why this is. You can see the lastest research below.
The findings are shown in the figure below. These figures are high for all groups. However, pupils in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) report higher levels of ever being bullied.
The findings are shown in the Figure below. Those pupils in receipt of FSM reported higher levels than those not in receipt of FSM.
Children in Wales's Report on the 7th Annual Child and Family Poverty Surveys 2023, published October 2023, also reports bullying to affect children who live in poverty the most (when at school).
The study also states with regards to Free School Meals: “A few remarked that the portion size of free school meals was “smaller than other people’s” and that their choice was also limited within the allowance. They also described the stigma of free school meals and “how obvious it is” which pupils receive them during lunchtime. These comments are perhaps better understood through the practitioners’ survey, in which they stated that the ‘allowance’ for free school meals was too low, and learners regularly have to ask the price of each item or are refused an item because they ‘can’t afford’ it. Inevitably, comments on free school meals generally included bullying, stigma and isolation.”
Children in Wales