Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Education: More than three in ten pupils now entitled to free school meals

The number of pupils in Northern Ireland entitled to free meals has risen by 16,000 in the past two years
Image caption The number of pupils in Northern Ireland entitled to free meals has risen by 16,000 in the past two years

More than three in ten pupils in Northern Ireland are now entitled to free school meals, according to Department of Education (DE) figures.

The number of pupils entitled to free meals has risen by 16,000 in the past two years.

In total 101,063 pupils were entitled to free meals in the 2015/16 school year out of a total of 330,411 pupils.

According to DE, changes to working tax credits are likely to account for the increase.

However, around one in five pupils entitled to the free meal did not claim it.

Just under 40% of pupils in post-primary non-grammar schools get free school meals, whereas that falls to only 14% of pupils in grammar schools.

The figures are based on the most recent school meals census, which took place on 9 October 2015.

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