MPs urged to back free school meal plan

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has called on MPs to support plans to ensure all children from poor backgrounds are automatically registered fro free school meals.

The plans involve the addition of a clause on auto-registration to the Digital Economy Bill which will mean families to do not have to apply for their children to have free school meals but will be automatically registered if they are eligible.

The NAHT highlighted that when the government brought in universal free school meals for all children in reception, Year 1 and Year 2, some low-income families stopped informing schools about their circumstances. This means once children reached Year 3, they began to miss out on opportunities for extra support.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, commented: “We know that not all children who are eligible for free school meals claim them. The government can change that by accepting this amendment today.

“Auto-registration for free school meals would ensure more children get the support they are entitled to. Schools would also see a boost in funding through the pupil premium, which is given to schools to support children registered for free school meals. At a time when school budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point, and an Autumn Statement delivers nothing beyond the government’s project of grammar schools, this change could deliver much needed support and money for children and schools.”