A village in West Sussex has joined together to help low-income children from the local primary school during the pandemic.
The people of Cuckfield have been donating various items to Holy Trinity C of E (A) Primary School since the beginning of the pandemic, but since the announcement of the third national lockdown the number of donations has increased massively.
Head teacher Ann MacGregor said the school has a total of 26 Free School Meals (FSM) children and 27 pupils in total are in need of laptops, but currently the Government has only allocated nine.
The local community has come together and donated hundreds of items to aid parents in homeschooling their children, such as: laptops, food parcels, cash and tablets which have been distributed by the school staff and volunteers from the local church.
West Sussex County Council estimate that 15,000 pupils now receive FSM across the county, approximately 3,500 more than in January 2020.
The national picture
The way in which children from low-income households have been catered for during the pandemic has caused much concern in the last few months, following footballer Marcus Rashford’s call on the Government to give out free school meals during the holidays.
He then raised concerns again about the quality of the food packages being allocated during lockdown.
According to the Department for Education, in England, about 1.4 million children claimed free school meals in January 2020 – which is 17.3% of state school pupils.
Analysis by the Food Foundation estimates a further 900,000 children in England may have sought free school meals since the start of the pandemic.
In this podcast..
Our reporter Ellie Smitherman spoke to the members of the community who have orchestrated Cuckfield’s efforts to help the local children, as well as a single-mother who has benefitted from the donations.