Judith Bunting welcomes the delivery of free school meals to all infants, which begins this September.
“This is a terrific initiative which treats all young children as equals,” Judith commented. “The pilot schemes clearly showed that students who ate a proper meal at lunch time, did better in class. Now we are rolling out this scheme to serve all our infants across West Berks.”
The scheme was tested in trials ran for 2 years in 3 local authorities, across the UK. These pilot schemes had a statistically significant positive impact on attainment for primary school pupils at Key Stages 1 and 2, with pupils in the pilot areas making between four and eight weeks’ more progress than similar pupils in comparison areas: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/184047/DFE-RR227.pdf
Judith Bunting commented: “Liberal Democrats are determined to create a level playing field for all of our children so their success will be determined by their talents and efforts alone and not by their parents’ bank balance. Every parent will be aware of the terrible gap in achievement that’s opened up between children of the haves and the have-nots over the past few years in West Berkshire (http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/news/ofsted-too-many-of-englands-poorest-children-continue-be-let-down-education-system). I want every policy we can possibly bring to bear to improve this situation for our children and others similarly affected across the UK.”
Liberal Democrats in government are already delivering on this aim through one of the most socially democratic policies passed in a generation, the Pupil Premium. Free school meals for all is the next step towards giving every child to have the best possible start in life.
£150m has been made available to prepare schools for this move. Most are ready, though not all and you can imagine that those not ready will get plenty of publicity in the press as September approaches. “Hold your faith, Judith Bunting say, “We are helping all children with this policy and it’s worth a bit of creative thinking, here and there, and the odd readjustment to establish such a profound universal policy.”
“Eating together also encourages community,” Judith Bunting went on. “But the evidence is clear. Free school meals have a significant impact on how a child performs works in the classroom and these improvements will help all our children. Fewer children falling behind, means less disruption in class and a better education for all.”
The school meals scheme comes into effect in September 2014.