Teaching unions push for free school meals expansion

They said vulnerable children who do not receive free meals are facing a ‘real barrier to learning’.

31 May 2022

Teaching unions have written to the Chancellor and Education Secretary asking for free school meals to be provided to all children from families receiving Universal Credit in England.

Unions and organisations claiming to represent one million school staff asked for an “urgent” expansion of the scheme amid the cost-of-living crisis.

It said vulnerable children who do not receive free meals are facing a “real barrier to learning”.

“Every school day we see the benefits free school meals provide to those currently entitled. For many it is the only hot, nutritious meal they have in a day,” the letter to Rishi Sunak and Nadhim Zahawi said.

“A quality school meal helps improve children’s concentration and behaviour during lessons. We witness, first-hand, the effect they can have on improving school attendance, on children’s health, and academic performance.

“However, the intensifying cost-of-living crisis means many more are now struggling to afford school lunches… We see the devastating reality of children coming to school unable to afford to buy lunch, because their family circumstances means they fall outside the restrictive free school meal eligibility criteria.”

The letter added: “Now is the right moment for the Government to commit to an expansion of free school meals, providing a nutritional safety net that supports all children to learn and achieve.”

Signatories to the letter included Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, and Dr Nicholas Capstick, chief executive of White Horse Federation Trust and chairman of the School Food Review Working Group.

A Government spokesman told the BBC: “We recognise that millions of households across the UK are struggling to make their incomes stretch to cover the rising cost of living, which is why, in addition to the over £22 billion announced previously, we are providing over £15 billion in further support, targeted particularly on those with the greatest need.

“The holiday activities and food programme runs during major school holidays, and wider welfare support is available through the household support fund, which helps vulnerable families in need with essentials, such as food and utility bills.”

News

The opinions expressed in the comments sections below posts are not those of Perspective magazine. We love a good debate, but please keep comments respectful. Personal attacks and any form of hatred will not be published.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Related Posts

Menu