free school meals

(36 Posts)
Jemstone Tue 29-Oct-13 17:06:46

I understand from next year all ks1 children will get free school meals. What will happen in schools which currently do not offer a hot meal and all children have to bring in packed lunch?

jellybeans001 Tue 29-Oct-13 17:08:53

Interesting i think they will remain bringing in pack lunches. Will not apply to all

mrz Tue 29-Oct-13 18:24:32

"All infant school pupils in state funded schools in England will be eligible for a free school meal from September 2014." I think schools will have to look for ways to provide lunch ... not necessarily hot.

Periwinkle007 Tue 29-Oct-13 19:12:28

I didn't realise it was actually a firm 'it will happen' thing.

no idea how on earth that will work in our school - 2 lunch sittings already just for the hot lunches which is a minority of pupils, hall is so small there is no way they can get the kids all in there eating lunch unless they have about 4 or 5 sittings which will mean some will be having lunch at 11 and others at gone 1 plus they will all be rushed through so won't be able to eat it all anyway.

my kids will be taking a packed lunch with them free school lunch or not as we have our main meal in the evening and ok I am a control freak but I like to know what they are being fed.

In schools which don't supply hot meals, FSM children are supplied with a free packed lunch.

Unexpected Tue 29-Oct-13 19:31:23

I presume for schools which don't have a facility to provide hot lunches, the FSM will consist of a packed lunch which will arrive daily from a supplier already bagged up. I don't see why this will make any difference to what already happens in your school Periwinkle007. Presumably kids with packed lunches now will be given a packed lunch and will continue to eat wherever and whenever they already do - in the classroom?

Aeroaddict Tue 29-Oct-13 19:35:47

It seems like a crazy idea to me. Why provide free school meals for everyone? It will cost a fortune, and surely the money would be better going to those that really need it. I have no problem finding the money to feed my child, nice though it will be to have it paid for, I really don't get it!

mrz Tue 29-Oct-13 19:40:10

£600 million Aeroaddict ... but speaking as a teacher in one of the pilot schools it did have a noticeable impact.

In pilot areas:

students were found to be on average 2 months ahead of their peers elsewhere
around 2% more children reached target levels in Maths and English at Key Stage 1; while at Key Stage 2 the impact on achievement of between 3% and 5% was a bigger improvement than the 3.6% boost that followed the introduction of a compulsory literacy hour in 1998
academic improvements were most marked among children from less affluent families
there was a 23% increase in the number of children eating vegetables at lunch and an 18% drop in those eating crisps

Aeroaddict Tue 29-Oct-13 19:59:16

That is interesting! Did the pilot schools provide cooked meals? DS's school only does packed lunches, and I'd be surprised if they make that much difference. I would be glad to be proved wrong though!

LittleSiouxieSue Tue 29-Oct-13 20:24:19

I think the real difference for quite a lot of children is the provision of a hot free school meal. If you have ever had anything to do with schools where parents do not provide decent packed lunches, let alone a breakfast, there is a marked improvement in the concentration of children in the afternoon. If you feed the child, you feed the brain! Free school meals where we live, means free poor quality sandwiches. This is better than the bag of crisps and a biscuit provided by some parents, but is not good enough. The Government has never understood how poorly some children are nourished but targeting all is probably spreading the money a bit thinly.

Periwinkle007 Tue 29-Oct-13 20:33:04

hmm well currently my 2 take healthy lunches and I have a feeling they would end up being given less healthy and less tasty food if it was a packed lunch. The sad part is that if a school goes from being able to provide hot meals for the FSM children to only being able to supply packed lunches then the genuinely FSM children will lose out.

My mum taught a child once who only had branston pickle sandwiches every day, 2 or 3 times a day. hardly a surprise the poor kid was bouncing off the walls. Then there were kids who would bring in their younger siblings and say they hadn't been able to find any food in the house so the child hadn't eaten etc and probably hadn't had dinner the night before either so their lunch was the only thing keeping them going. It is no surprise to me that it improved achievements in the pilot schools but I am really not sure supplying packed lunches would live up to the same.

mrz Tue 29-Oct-13 21:05:55

I can only speak for my school and schools I know personally but they provided a choice of hot meals or sandwiches for all children (not just infants).

I taught a boy a few years ago who had sugar sandwiches everyday and would hide his lunchbox so we would give him a school dinner

mrz Tue 29-Oct-13 21:07:39

this year I have a child whose packed lunch was a packet of Doritos, a large bag of Haribo and a net of chocolate coins

simpson Tue 29-Oct-13 21:17:32

I volunteer in a reception class on a Wednesday and one boy has pizza slices (4 of them, they are massive and his mother expects him to eat it all) along with crisps, cake, juice etc.

simpson Tue 29-Oct-13 21:18:51

Forgot to say both my DC have school dinners daily and they are pretty good. They don't provide sandwiches though.

Periwinkle007 Tue 29-Oct-13 22:28:42

and these will be the same parents who don't read the leaflets about healthy eating etc.

I worry about putting in a little cake or biscuit for my kids. They get sandwich (cheese/meat) or wrap, fruit, salad and then some sort of little cake/biscuit/malt loaf/bake bar etc but never crisps, chocolate or sweets.

This is sadly where so many parents need educating but it is the same as it has been for well years and I can't see how anyone will ever change it except by providing healthy food within the school for these children.

the hot dinners at our school are good but I just don't want them eating 2 cooked meals a day and would prefer they have a lighter lunch and then a meal as a family in the evening. Having said that I used to from being about 8 so maybe I will change my mind.

The packed lunch boxes provided in our area (no hot meals) are very varied and healthy - interesting fillings in sandwiches and wraps, fruit and no chocolate bars or crisps.

elskovs Wed 30-Oct-13 06:59:56

Its a ridiculous idea - we have lost our child benefit, but are gaining free school meals for the eldest 2 (not that we would take them)

Whats the reasoning behind that?

mrz Wed 30-Oct-13 09:00:35

In both Islington and Durham, free school meal pilots have proven to increase children’s performance at school – especially the less well-off children – and give them a critical helping hand out of poverty as a result. Children were two months ahead of their peers in other schools, had better exam results in both key stage 1 and key stage 2, and their teachers observed a big improvement in concentration.

^It will take financial pressure off the 500,000 ‘working poor’ who are not eligible for free school meals and ensure that their children eat well at school.^"

NynaevesSister Wed 30-Oct-13 09:15:11

It takes away the charity aspect of FSM. When they are available to all, children on FSM feel that they as the same and equal to everyone else. They have more confidence and so better. Outstanding schools I have seen have put money into subsidising school meals so they are very good value and nutritious with the result they have 90% uptake across all children.

mrz Wed 30-Oct-13 09:50:14

one of the arguments for free meals for all is that universal take up reduces costs especially in small schools.

crazykat Wed 30-Oct-13 10:20:58

What happens if DCs don't like what's on offer? Looking at the menu ours had for last half term, mine wouldn't have eaten much. There's no way we can afford the £9 each for them to not eat much and then need a packed lunch type meal when they get home and then something later on.

If it was free I'd let them try it and if they don't eat enough I'd be sending them with a packed lunch.

What happens though when DCs are used to a hot meal at school, then in year three when it needs to be paid for and their parents can't afford it? That will cause problems especially if younger siblings are getting a hot meal still and they don't.

If its going to be free, it should be for all primary aged children. Or even better, instead of completely free, just make it cheaper so instead of costing £9 per child per week make it half that with the rest subsidised by the government but for all primary aged children.

mrz Wed 30-Oct-13 10:23:13

I think the plan is to extend it to older children in the future

elskovs Wed 30-Oct-13 12:58:20

"It takes away the charity aspect of FSM. When they are available to all, children on FSM feel that they as the same and equal to everyone else"

I don't believe this can be the reason behind FSM for all primary children. Primary aged children aren't aware of a stigma - its in secondary where they will notice who is poor. Its just not plausible. Neither is the reason about it being cheaper to serve in bulk.

I agree there are low income working families who would benefit, but it still doesn't explain why goodness knows how many who have lost CB now get FSM.

I wont believe it until it happens

mrz Wed 30-Oct-13 13:00:29

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