Conference Papers

Free School Meals (FSM) and extending forms of Capital: A small scale case study in one Academy school.

This paper aims to investigate the notion of ‘Culinary Capital’ in line with Free School Meal (FSM) participation in one Academy school. Evidence from the past twenty years on pupil attainment and school performance has become central to understanding achievement and this has involved assessing socio-economic status; one of these measures being those pupils who are in receipt of FSMs (Taylor, 2017). Whilst forms of culinary capital have been discussed in public discourse, such as social media, it has not yet been discussed in a school-based context. Furthermore, up-take of FSMs is in decline and whilst families are eligible, they are not taking this opportunity and it is important to investigate the factors which influence their decisions. Therefore, this research project aims to highlight how forms of culinary capital can be extended in the school dining hall. It is notions of power that are introduced in terms of the theoretical framework. Part of the power of food is that it is everywhere. It creates endless notions of good and bad, including good and bad food, good and bad eating practices and good and bad bodies. Food power is not only constraining and repressive, but also enabling and productive. The research questions for this study include, 1) To what extent can school meals promote forms of capital? 2) To what extent has the School Food Plan (2013) supported school food provision in bridging gaps of inequality? 3) What do pupils and staff in the school perceive to be the barriers of up-take of FSMs? Data in the form of interviews, field notes and observations were collected alongside visuals from one academy school in the West Midlands region. Methodological challenges are discussed and some preliminary findings from the study are presented in which correlations are drawn to how the school meal as a site can enhance forms of capital.

Lalli, G. (2019) 'Free School Meals (FSM) and extending forms of Capital: A small scale case study in one Academy school.', paper presented to The 15th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 27–28 June, viewed 24 January 2020, <>