Primary heads join MP in saying scrapping free school meals could see Nottm children going hungry
Graham Allen MP, commenting on reports [above] the government is going to drop free school meals for infants, said:
"Nottingham North Primary School heads [below] are as anxious as I am about the proposal to scrap school dinners. They have, at their own cost, installed new kitchens to deliver this scheme. Yet before it can be properly evaluated for its impact on pupils performance at school, they are shutting the door. They never liked this scheme - we all know that - but schools have gone to a huge amount of trouble and effort to deliver it. This will be a slap in the face for them and for the hard-pressed families it supports in low income areas like ours .
"This decision also underlines how little the government is protecting the education budget which is vital for the future success of our children and our country.
"This comes at a time the government is cutting tax credits for working families. This decision will see 5,000 local families in Nottingham North lose an average of £1,000 a year and directly increase levels of poverty in Britain.
"There is a very real risk that scrapping free school meals combined with tax credit cuts could see millions of children going hungry as a result of this decision."
I am appalled that there is even a suggestion that the Universal Free School Meal scheme is to be scrapped. It has been one of the most beneficial schemes introduced since I have been a Head Teacher during the last 18 years.
At Springfield, like a number of other schools in Bulwell we decided that all children should have their free meal and that we would not allow children to bring sandwiches in EYFS and KS1. We have worked really hard with children and the school catering service to make sure that we provide meals that the children love. Some children need persuading to try a range of foods but parents are really grateful that we take on this role and we have had some great successes.
We believe in this scheme so much, that as a school we are picking up the shortfall and paying for the very youngest children, that attend full time that are not entitled to free school meals, and providing them with a dinner.
If this scheme were to be scrapped it would be a huge backward step for my school community. I have happy well fed children , children ready for school, children who I know have had a hot meal each day, ready to learn.
JB Francis - Springfield Primary School
The universal meals scheme has been a great success and the provision of a hot lunchtime meals benefits children's health, wellbeing and has a positive impact upon learning as well as the wider effects of sharing a meal at a table with their peers etc. It also supports families in knowing that their child has had a nutritional meal without worrying about the cost or having to provide an appropriate packed lunch. To end this scheme after the hard work of schools and wider services to implement it would be only detrimental to our children and their wellbeing . Our children certainly look forward to their lunchtime meal and benefit from it greatly.
Cari Burgess - Henry Whipple Primary
Dropping what has been a great initiative would have an impact on just under one hundred pupils not having a daily balanced hot meal at lunchtime at Ambleside Primary school. Both the catering and MDSA teams worked effectively to put many of the changes in place to make it a success, surely, dropping this would be a backward step for our pupils.’
Karen L. Hannon - Ambleside Primary School
It was a policy that was not thought through in the first instance and it took the resourcefulness, dedication of hard working head teachers and school staff to ensure the policy was able to be implemented at short notice. Now in place it is providing an invaluable service. indeed a lifeline, to many families who live just above the free school meal threshold. I would wish to continue the policy through to the end of this parliament (at least) so its impact can be properly evaluated.
Andrew Sharp - Robin hood primary
This agenda causes further difficulties for our communities in terms of affordability but also children suffering in terms of healthy eating, many children do not eat breakfast and then are given unacceptable 'packed' lunches resulting in many children not having a hot meal at any time during the day! Free School Meals should be a basic right!
Loretta Sheppard - Glade Hill Primary and Nursery School
The introduction of free school meals for all infant children has been one of the best initiatives in recent years. at least 90% of our children now sit together, enjoy a well balanced meal, use a knife and fork, try new foods and most of all have a positive, social experience at dinner times - every day!
Parents feel supported to know that their children are provided with a hot meal in school, which means the pressure on them to provide this in the evening is no longer there. It's frustrating to think that before we are able to quantify fully the real impact on pupil achievement, the government have pulled the plug!
Celine Toner - Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Catholic Academy,