Free school meals: The 13 Birmingham neighbourhoods with most children eligible for free school meals

We unveil the Birmingham neighbourhoods which are home to the schools which have the highest amount of pupils eligible for free school meals

New government data has given an insight into the amount of school pupils in Birmingham who are on free school meals.

We have analysed the latest Census data available to reveal the Birmingham neighbourhoods that have the most school pupils who are eligible for free school meals.

The statistics looks at the number of pupils in each school that were eligible for a free school meal as of January 2023. The data looks at primary and secondary schools in each Birmingham ward and neighbourhood.

We’ve used the figures to calculate the neighbourhoods which are home to the schools which have the highest amount of pupils eligible for free school meals as the cost of living crisis continues to affect thousands of families across the city where fuel poverty is high.

The figures come after it was revealed that young children in Birmingham suffered a fall in attainment across all four key subjects at school through the coronavirus pandemic.

Across England, attainment levels in state schools for reading, writing, maths and science fell significantly from 2018-19 – the last unaffected year before the pandemic – to 2021-22. The Association of School and College Leaders said the figures show the “huge impact” the pandemic has had on children’s development and urged the Government to increase funding to meet attainment standards.

Department for Education figures show 65% of 15,579 Key Stage 1 pupils achieved the expected standard in reading assessments last year – down from 73% in 2018-19. The downward trend was reflected in writing – which fell from 67% to 56% across the same time period – and maths, falling from 73% to 65%.

More data shows how nearly a quarter of primary school pupils in Birmingham were persistently absent this year, as rates remain high after the pandemic.

Department for Education figures show 23.2% of pupils missed at least 10% of sessions in the school year 2022-23 and were considered persistently absent from the 257 primary schools that reported numbers for Birmingham. The rate was lower than secondary schools, where the figure stood at 30.8%.

Alix Robertson, head of engagement at the Centre for Education and Youth, said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is “still casting a long shadow over schools and their pupils”.

She added: “We know that many families are struggling with the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis. This may have an impact on attendance in terms of the financial burden of sending children to school, for example affording school uniforms or travel.

“In the worst cases, some families have lost their homes, leaving them to grapple with more significant issues than making it to school.”

Now, let’s take a look at the 13 Birmingham neighbourhoods where the most children are eligible for free school meals