Campaigners "dismayed" at backtracking on free school meals roll out

December 11, 2009

Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Free School Meals Campaign, John Dickie, the head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland reacted with dismay to reports that Ministers are prepared to "scale back" the roll out of free school meals to all pupils in P1 to P3.

Commenting on the reports Mr Dickie said;

“Free school meals were explicitly agreed as part of the funding settlement and underpinning Concordat agreed between Ministers and local authorities. For the sake of children and hard pressed families across Scotland the promise of free school meals from August 2010 for every child in the early years of primary must be kept.

"It would be a tragedy if just as the Chancellor's PBR recognised the vital role free school meals in England can play in tackling child poverty, the Scottish Government were to scale back their own groundbreaking and hugely successful initiative"

A universal approach to free school meals in primary school is supported by a massive cross section of Scottish society, including children and families charities such as Children 1st, Save the Children, Action for Children (NCH), Children in Scotland and One Parents Families Scotland; trade unions and professional associations including the STUC, EIS, Association of Headteachers & Deputes (AHDS), RCN (Scotland), Scottish Women’s Convention, Unison; anti-poverty groups such as the Poverty Alliance; faith groups including members of the Scottish Churches Social Inclusion Network and the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland; health boards and academics.

Evaluation of the free school meal pilots found that “Parents, teachers, local authority staff and catering staff were overwhelmingly positive about the provision of universal free school meals for P1 to P3 pupils.

Notes for editors

CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty and for a better deal for low-income families and children. With One Parent Families Scotland, the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty we co-ordinate the Scottish Campaign for Free School Meals. met.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact any of:

John Dickie Head of CPAG in Scotland on 07795 340 618 or 0141 552 3656