1.6m pupils eat free school dinners

Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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More than 1.6 million infants are now eating free school dinners, Nick Clegg has said.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader said official figures show that a decision to offer all five to seven-year-olds a free meal at lunchtime has had a very high take-up in its first three months.

The policy was introduced into England’s 16,500 primary schools in September.

Speaking on a visit to a London school, where he took part in some Christmas cooking, Mr Clegg said 1.3 million more children are eating school lunches since the programme was launched.

In total, 1,640,530 youngsters – around 85% of infants – now have a school meal at lunchtime.

“Well over a million and a half infants are enjoying a school meal at lunchtime, giving them a better start to afternoon lessons and a healthy boost for their first years in school,” Mr Clegg said.

“The other good news for families is that this saves them up to £400 per child a year on the cost of a packed lunch.

“The naysayers about this policy can eat their hats, and all the leftover sprouts.”

Earlier this year, the free meals policy sparked a coalition row over the expense of the reform, with former education secretary Michael Gove and schools minister David Laws later writing a joint article insisting they were both behind the scheme.

Some headteachers initially warned that the policy would cause difficulties in schools which did not have the kitchen and dining facilities to feed all of their eligible pupils during the lunch hour.

Published: Thursday 18th December 2014 by The News Editor

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