A major policy announcement outlined how the next Labour Government will provide free school meals for all primary school children, in a change that could benefit 14,449 children in York. Many Labour Councils are already introducing free school meals and are seeing the positive impact that this is having on children.
Research confirmed by the National Centre for Social Research and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown offering universal access to free school meals improves educational attainment through improvements in pupils’ productivity.
Labour will fund the policy by introducing VAT on private school fees. A policy that will benefit the educational attainment and health of all children while ending a subsidy to the privileged few. Too few children today go without 3 good meals a day as child poverty has soared to 3.7m according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Some children turn up to school hungry, especially now that food prices are rising.
The provision of free school meals also has been proven to improve the health of pupils through better nutrition - with over 90 percent of pupils eating a school lunch consuming food or drink containing vegetables or fruit (including fruit juice) compared with only 58 percent of pupils who eat packed lunches.
Rachael Maskell MP for York Central says:
“Children from all backgrounds should get a healthy meal at school. Introducing universal free school meals for all primary school children in York means that 14,449 children in our city will benefit.
“In York, the attainment gap is much larger than the National average and it is getting worse. Just 26% of children from low-income households in York are gaining A-level qualifications (or equivalent); compared to 68% for all children in York.
“I welcome the partnership work that is currently being done through the York Independent State School Partnership (ISSP) to provide courses and extra teaching to state schools. But the attainment gap is growing and we must continue to develop policies that increase opportunity for all our young people, so that they are all supported to reach their potential.”