THE Liberal Democrats in the national coalition have managed to get their Pupil Premium proposal in place for April 2011.

Every child registered for free school meals (FSM) will bring in £430 extra for the school’s budget. This can be used by the school to provide extra support, such as one-to-one tuition, smaller teaching groups, or booster classes, so that those who are finding school work hard can make better progress.

Some parents are reluctant to sign their child up for FSM for a variety of reasons (for example, they don’t want their child to be identified as ‘poor’, or their child does not actually like school dinners anyway).

We are asking everybody to do their best to make sure that all those whose children are eligible for FSM actually sign them up, and as soon as possible.

To qualify for FSM, you have to be receiving one of the following benefits: Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the Guarantee element of State Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit, provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190, Working Tax Credit during the four-week period immediately after their employment finishes or after they start to work less than 16 hours per week.

Children who receive any of the qualifying benefits listed in their own right are also eligible to receive free school meals.

For further information enquire at your child’s school or contact the Education Welfare Benefits Service, at SCO2207 Scott House, 5 George Street, Huntingdon PE29 3AD: telephone: 01480 372307.

May I strongly urge your readers to let everybody know about this scheme. It is a real opportunity to make a difference for those pupils who need the most help.

Councillor PETER DOWNES

Lib Dem spokesman for education

Cambridgeshire County Council

Brampton