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Raising standards through free school meals

14 January 2014

The proposal to extend the availability of free school meals to all children in infant classes at school may be causing headteachers some practical concerns around the size of the kitchen and its facilities alongside how the numbers of children involved will be supported, but it has practical benefits aswell. Reports from pilot studies have shown that there is a marked increased in academic achievement when pupils receive a school meal as opposed to a packed lunch with over a term’s improvement. The study also showed that the pupils already eligible for free school meals benefitted the most, perhaps through that stigma being removed with all pupils having the same meal.

This proposal, which has cross party support (which in itself is a rarity), appears to tick all the boxes for government policy – it raises standards, it supports the disadvantaged and narrows the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”. Given the forthcoming review of nutritional standards, it is hoped that the nationwide benefits will reflect those seen on the pilots.

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