SCHOOLS fear a drop in funding from the Government as the system used to identify children from low-income families is set to change.

Pupil premium, a Government grant, is allocated to schools with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is aimed at bridging the gap between them and their classmates.

The cash is allocated based on which children receive free school meals.

For the 2013/14 academic year schools received £953 for each child from a low income family.

This will rise to £1,300 from September.

But, from September, a new scheme will see all infant school pupils given a free meal, regardless of household income. This means children will not be automatically signed up for the premium, and parents will have to apply independently.

Some schools are concerned this will mean they will lose out on pupil premium if parents do not apply.

In a letter to parents, Richard Green, headteacher at Grove Wood Primary School, in Grove Road, Rayleigh, said: “With all children receiving free school meals automatically, this means that we can no longer identify those children who would have previously qualified for Pupil Premium.

“I would, therefore, urge parents to apply for free school meals if they are on a low income.

“The more eligible parents who claim free school meals, the more funding the school receives to support children’s learning.”