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Free school meals for all?


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I'm really not sure about this at all. Am I right in thinking that this is as a result of the Daniel Pelka case, or am I putting two and two together and making five?

 

As a parent I would no doubt grab this benefit with both hands (would I be able to refuse it?), but given that I could afford to pay for my children's school meals, I would have feel uneasy knowing that I was taking money that could be spent on other areas of education.

 

I wonder how far £60 million would go to redress the shortfall in early years education funding?

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I would perhaps have more faith in it if I was convinced that all school meals are equally healthy, well balanced, delicious and nutritious etc, etc. Sadly I've seen too many school dinners over the years that I'd have been loath to give to a hungry dog. My son used to have school dinners too and often complained that if he was at a later sitting, there would be very little left to eat and no choice at all. Quality of the meals seems to vary hugely from one school to another, with the best I've seen being in schools where they've opted to employ their own cooks etc as opposed to contracting in catering companies.

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As the free school meals criteria is used for so many things I am joining with Rea and wondering if this is a rather expensive way to cover the increase in those needing free school meals due to job losses benefits cuts etc.

 

I still think many families like to have their cooked meal together at the end of the day. . . . how will parents monitor exactly what they have eaten at school?

Will schools meals be better balanced? More choice?

 

Will children have to have it???????

 

I am not convinced it is as great an offer as it sounds. . . . . but that might just be my untrusting nature.............................. (Where politics and politicians are concerned!!!)

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As a family of vegetarians, my children were constantly disappointed by school dinners. Nobody made any effort to save anything for them and if they went in late, they got nothing. So I would not have seen any benefit in this and would not have taken it up no matter how poor we were.

But I am sure it might have been better if the school had cooked its own food.

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Sorry to act stupid here, but I was under the impression we already gave free school meals to children that were within the need criteria, why then are we rolling it out to all children for the first three years of schooling, am I missing something.............

I'm not sure what the actual figure is to implement and sustain this new iniative, but I for one can think of lots of other uses for this vital money.

Children centres built with huge investment are now in threat of closure, schools falling apart and don't even get me on care for the elderly. :(

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Agree Fredbear - one of my first thoughts was 'the elderly'........thinking of myself as usual ;)xD

 

It is - in my humble - nothing more than a 'vote grabber'.........

 

I'm interested in the thinking too - what happens at age seven are needs somehow diminished

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having watched a few of the news reports this morning, it has been trialled in several schools and they found that the academic results of all children improved , particularly those who would usually qualify anyway.. thoughts is it is because there is a level playing field, where all are entitled and all children were equal, not singled out into those who had free meals.

 

Not sure I explained it fully, but it appears it did have an impact..

 

issue is as always with the quality and choices , getting parents on board, cost.. seen several different suggestions on cost this morning.. half a billion was the last one!)

 

Meanwhile some pensioners cannot afford a hot meal every day and with other costs rising, and finding it harder to stay warm and eat..

 

but then schools are a headline at the moment with so many changes so this is topical..

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I can believe that children are more able to concentrate and 'perform' better with a 'good' meal inside them..........would question several points though.......

 

Are meals provided always of a good nutritional standard - not if my grandchildren are to be believed ;)

 

Is this really necessary across the board - I am confident that teachers don't 'trumpet' free school meals - so therefore not able to believe the 'stigma' argument

 

Our little Primary has been forced to expand - this as a result of Government closing several small schools in surrounding villages - result our village is completely jammed with cars at drop off/collection times (sorry off on a tangent there) - the school hall is no longer big enough to accommodate all children at the same time - so this would mean at least two lunch sittings may be three.......not sure how that would work really and would certainly mean that the hall would be 'off limits' for quite a large 'chunk' of the day......

 

I am deeply concerned about the elderly, and the people who are forced to visit food banks, the fact that hospices have to rely on public donations, that there are not enough incubators, dialysis machines in our hospitals and so much more.....is this an appropriate and best use of £600m - not in my book :ph34r:

 

Right 'off my soap box' now! :1b

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My kids (who are now all teenagers) have all tried school meals at one time but prefer to take a packed lunch for the following reasons:

the queues are too long so waiting for hot meal means less time to play football

the choices are very limited - sometimes there are some quite bizarre items on the menu

as someone else has already said, 2nd sitting always seems to run out of food - my youngest son was once given a quarter of a baked potato (cut up to go round as they were running short) and a small spoonful of baked beans and charged £2!!! So I'm not convinced that this is the gift it initially appears to be.

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Sharon Hodgson MP said on twitter funding won't be known until the autumn statement. EY funding ring fencing was removed a couple of years ago so I'm wondering if that could be touched

 

:o It had better not be - I will return to my soapbox pdq if that's the case.......

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Whilst I can understand that there are some educationally beneficial impacts like others I'm not so convinced that this isn't just yet another political soundbite at party conference time.

 

If free school meals for all children is beneficial then where is the rationale for only offering it in years 1, 2 and 3. Do reception children not need this educationally beneficial boost too! We are in an area where it is pretty much all primary schools - reception through to year six so we will end up with children who start off on either free school meals (because they qualify) in reception and a mix of paid lunch and lunch box children in reception who then move onto free school meals for three years who then drop off the cliff in year 4 presumably back to free school meals (because they qualify) and a mix of paid lunch and lunch box children again!!

 

Most of our primaries are having enough problem finding space for additional classrooms as we are experiencing huge increases in birth rates let alone find space to provide halls for free school lunches too. Some of our primaries are expanding to five form entry which means that for years 1 to 3 there will be some 450 children (and that's only if they stick to 30 children a class) to provide a free lunch for each day.

 

Maybe this is part of a bigger plan - perhaps children will need to start school at 8.00am and finish at 4.00pm just to ensure that there is enough time to feed them all :rolleyes:

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Theres' a lot of chat at the moment referring to Lib Dems opposition to free school meals whenever Labour councillors have tried to introduce it in the past.

They're obviously going for the 'mom vote', free school meals and cheaper school uniforms.

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I think your right in that this is politically motivated however I can see the benefits of this and think it should be rolled out to older children too. I am a school governor in a smallish infant school with a high percentage of free meals, governor's asked if this benefited the attainment of these children. I asked who mainly brought in lunch boxes so a survey and monitoring of meals and attainment was done looking at a 3yr stretch. Indeed children on free and paid for meals their attainment was better overall than children on lunch boxes. It was also discovered that the main reason lunch boxes were chosen was that those parents couldn't afford to buy school lunches because they had tax credits that took them just over the threshold for free meals but also just out of the affordability of paying for them. I'm for this just from this small piece of data I have seen first hand however I could not see how in practice how it would work from a cost point of view.

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Oh SueJ you are so right, where's the fairness in saying you can have it for the first three years and then it's back to you parents, with less attainment and unruly children again !!!!!!!!!!!!!, all or nothing I say, and how on earth are we going to pay for this is really worrying.:(

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I think your right in that this is politically motivated however I can see the benefits of this and think it should be rolled out to older children too. I am a school governor in a smallish infant school with a high percentage of free meals, governor's asked if this benefited the attainment of these children. I asked who mainly brought in lunch boxes so a survey and monitoring of meals and attainment was done looking at a 3yr stretch. Indeed children on free and paid for meals their attainment was better overall than children on lunch boxes. It was also discovered that the main reason lunch boxes were chosen was that those parents couldn't afford to buy school lunches because they had tax credits that took them just over the threshold for free meals but also just out of the affordability of paying for them. I'm for this just from this small piece of data I have seen first hand however I could not see how in practice how it would work from a cost point of view.

 

Thank you Sue - that is really interesting :1b

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I do wonder if this will really be the 'vote grabber' that 'Clegg' possibly envisages.......

 

Mr S has a far too simplistic way of looking at things - in my humble :ph34r: - his reaction was "perhaps people should stop having children that they either can't afford or can't be bothered to look after" - please note - as I have already said 'this is far too simplistic' ....but I wonder how many other (older) tax payers are thinking this is a 'step too far' :(

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I seem to recall from the dark recesses of my memory that the lovely "sink" infant and junior schools that I attended from my lovely "sink" council estate provided school dinners for all (perhaps we were all free school meals!).

 

It is easily some 40 plus years since I ate one however I can still remember grey lumps in the mash, "meat" (not really sure that it qualified as meat) pie, boiled to death cabbage (oh how the smell lingered), pink blancmange tart with grated coconut on top (what was that all about) and water with a distinctly metalic taste from the metal beakers that we had to drink from. I also remember that at the grand old age of 4 I walked out of school, all the way home (3 miles) because they were trying to get me to eat lumpy custard (I still gag at lumpy custard and custard skin now!).

 

Politics aside I wonder what culinary delights we are looking to blight our children's memories with now xD

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If free school meals for all children is beneficial then where is the rationale for only offering it in years 1, 2 and 3. Do reception children not need this educationally beneficial boost too!

It is reception yr1 and yr2, which are the Infant years in a school - the first 3 years are not yr 1-3 as far as I have heard it described.

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