to have mixed feelings about this school's actions(92 Posts)
The school have some parents who have not been paying for their children's school lunches to the extent that the school are owed £1000. They have now said that children may be given toast or a bread roll for lunch if their parents owe over £10. It's only affecting pupils in year 3-6 as the others get a universal free school meal.
I'm in two minds about it, parents need to take responsibility for paying for their children (or applying for free school meals if eligible) but the school have a responsibility to the children to educate them and if they've had a couple of slices of toast then are they going to be able to concentrate properly in the afternoons if they are hungry?
If they are from poor families then the school lunch might be their only decent meal so it's going to affect their nutrition if their parents can't/won't provide a nutritious meal. Maybe the school need to do more to raise awareness of applying for free school meals?
I can't make my mind up really if they are right or wrong to do this.
The school can not afford to feed them. If the parents aren’t paying and the school continues to supply proper lunches then it will have to come at the cost of something else like a teacher. With the government squeezing education budgets as they have the schools are struggling to educate children properly even without absorbing extra costs like this.
Parents have a duty to feed their kids. If they can’t afford to then they have to apply for FSM. Schools can’t pick up all the pieces caused by bad parenting.
The school is not being unreasonable. They don't have budget to pay for lunch. Parents need to accept responsibility. If parents are struggling they should apply for pupil premium.
If the families do not have income, yet can’t find the time to apply for the free school meals programme then what else are these children missing out on? Do they get breakfast or tea? I think they should be referred to social services. If it’s an honest mistake by failing to complete an application they can resolve it. If its more they need help
I tend to think the school are right but it's a moral issue as well isn't it, or at least a rock and a hard place.
Who would you like to pay for the meals? The teachers? I keep bread and vegemite and jam in the staff room for kids who forget lunch (we don't have school lunches here). I also keep a big basket of fruit in the classroom that any child can help themselves from. One parent, who was a serial offender, abused me once because her child would rather have a pie from the canteen as he doesn't like sandwiches or fruit. Send him with food or money then, it should not be my job to pay for a pie everyday for your child.
The school aren’t being unreasonable at all they just can’t afford to feed these children. Even if they could, the parents are still being unreasonable for not paying for their own children’s food! I too think that consistent non payment should equal a referral to social services to make sure that everything is ok at home.
One parent branded the school “disgusting” for doing this. Not as disgusting as failing to pay your bill to a school resulting in your own child going hungry all day!
I think the school are right. I'm not heartless, I do understand financial hardship exists, but in terms of morality the moral obligation lies with the parents to arrange food for their child.
A bill like that can build up I guess. The school had to do something.
Sending a packed lunch is relatively cheap. Pity the parents have gotten into debt with the whole thing. I guess the parents can send some food in to substitute the bread and water. Or pay the 10 quid they owe I suppose.
You might find that it is parents like myself who struggle to pay. A single parent on an income that is just above benefits so not entitled to free school meals, rent and council tax take half my salary and that's before gas electric food, other school bills - the portion of child care that tax credit doesn't cover, plus £150 per month to travel to work. I live in social housing in London. Mumsnetters I'm sure will have the answer - get a higher paying job or move out of London to cheaper accommodation- because yes life works like that for those who have the means to move
I agree that the children should be referred to social services.
Unfortunately not every family on a low income will be eligible for free school meals. I couldn't afford school dinners for my kids, so I had to stop doing them and start sending in pack ups.
The problem for the kids in this article isn't just that parents aren't paying, its that they aren't making any alternative provision through FSM or packed lunches. They may not be able to read, complete forms, etc.
This problem is such an issue in the states that there was a trend last year of members of the public calling up schools and making donations towards school lunch debt so kids could still eat.
It's a tough one and I feel for parents in the situation where they genuinely lack the funds for the school meals - but they should contact the school and see what can be done.
But I understand the school's position as well - because some of those serial non-payers will be piss-takers, and the school can't keep taking the load from those piss-takers.
The difficulty the school has is to separate out the two, so in reality the only way is for those in genuine need to apply for help. If they can't get FSM because they're slightly over the cut-off, then perhaps the school has a hardship fund that can help them.
As always, it's the pisstakers who ruin it for everyone else.
I expe t they will have done everything to make it happen and this is the last resort. The school is doing right. There will some parents who also struggle to pay but make other sacrifices to pay for their kids to have lunches,. Yet those kids will be penalised because money that should go towards their education is instead diverted to pay other kids school meals. It isn't fair on other pupils.
The scholl will provide basic food so they won't go hungry. It's terrible how parents refuse to take responsibility for the children they are choosing to have.
Do you honestly think schools have the budget to pay for a hot meal for all these children 5 days a week OP? Or maybe you're "outraged" enough about this situation to pay for their meals yourself??
Personally, I think the school should be praised for finding the cash to feed the non-payers toast, not questioned on whether or not they've fulfilled the moral obligations.
Seriously, some people need to live in the real world.
There is nothing wrong with eating bread. There are enough countries who don't provide meals during school time and the kids still flourish eating sandwiches.
I'd be more concerned on what else the kids are neglected in.
@Legwarmers or just make your child a sandwich to take to school, don't send them in for hot dinners you can't pay for and build up a debt the Advil can't afford to cover either, you don't have to move or get another job
The school aren’t being unreasonable at all they just can’t afford to feed these children. Even if they could, the parents are still being unreasonable for not paying for their own children’s food!
The trouble is that between those two entities is the child who definitely isn't being unreasonable and who is the one to suffer. I worry about the ones whose parents just don't care so don't bother to feed them properly at home either.
"it's a moral issue as well isn't it"
Yes. Parents have a moral responsibility to feed their DC adequately, and so need to purchase a school dinner, send a packed lunch or arrange for the child to go home for lunch (very rare these days), or to seek help if they are having difficulty doing that.
Schools cannot afford to pick up unpaid lunch bills, nor to let families continue to rack up their debt.
If there families who need help to pay, then the school might be able to help them access support (PTA, local benefactor or, for faith schools, the congregation). Though there is always the risk that if families discover they can access school meals for free outside the FSM programme, then the pisstakers will arrive.
If people cannot afford to send in a simple sandwich instead of buying hot dinner or applying for FSM / pupil premium if eligible then it is an issue for social services. Schools do not have the money to subsidie lunches . I know many schools who promote pupil premium and will actively help people with the forms.
Falling a day or two behind is one thing. But beyond that, unless there are specific circumstances school are aware of, then I really don’t see what choice the school have. They are giving the child some food - which is more than the parents are bothering to ensure!
Imagine a discussion on the playground (amongst parents) about school dinners then a “oh I haven’t paid all year and they still get fed” - you would soon have half the school expecting to be fed for free!
Midnite I am just at that CF parent demanding you buy a pie for her son! The mind boggles.
At my kids school if you go £2.20 behind (1 school meal) the child is put on a stop list. At that point the parent has 2 options, top up the account or bring in a packed lunch.
I suppose if the parent refused to do either the school wouldn’t allow the child to go hungry? But I don’t know. I also assume that failing to provide your child with a lunch would be a safeguarding concern?
Schools have a duty to educate. Parents have a duty to feed their children!
The school can’t afford to keep subsidising meals for persistent nonpayers. Children will get something so they’re not going hungry.
Be angry with the parents who aren’t taking responsibility for feeding their own child, not with the school
What do you expect the school to do, OP. Their budgets can barely pay for staff let alone daily hot dinners for every child whose parents owe them money.
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