Free School Meals For Scots Primary School Pupils

All school pupils in primaries one to three in Scotland are to be entitled to free school meals following successful pilot schemes.

Plans for a national roll out were announced today by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Children and Early Years Minister Adam Ingram during a visit to the Oakley campus in Dunfermline, Fife, which combines Holy Name RC Primary School and Inzievar Primary School.

The move could cost between £30m and £46m a year.

Pilot schemes ran across five local authorities (Fife, East Ayrshire, Glasgow City, West Dunbartonshire and the Scottish Borders) and 35,000 children between October 2007 and June 2008.

Uptake of meals among P1s to P3s rose from 53% to 75%. Within the target group of P1-P3 pupils not registered for free school meals, uptake increased from 41% to 69%.

Ms Hyslop said:"This Government has made it a priority to help children in their early years and this initiative does just that, providing every child with a free school meal in their first years at primary school."

The evaluation of the trial aimed to investigate practical issues and to assess early indications of health and other benefits.

The trial resulted in significantly increased uptake of school meals. Among the target group of P1-P3 pupils not free school meal (FSM) registered, uptake of school meals increased from 41% to 69 %. Uptake also increased slightly among P1-P3 pupils who were previously FSM registered (from 89% to 94%) and among P4-P7 pupils (from 47% to 50%).

Research found parents, teachers, local authority staff and catering staff were very positive about the provision of FSM for P1-P3 pupils.

Some pupils taking part in the trial began trying and enjoying new foods and some were asking for new foods at home, including healthier options

There were no unexpected impacts from the pilot and roll-out by other local authorities should not be problematic.

The agreement with COSLA and local authorities means that free school meals for P1-P3 pupils will be rolled out from August 2010.

John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and a leading member of the Free School Meals Campaign, said: "This is a massive step forward in the campaign to ensure every child, whatever their home circumstances, gets a healthy meal at school."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

05 December 2013
£1bn Towards Free School Meals
£1bn is being unlocked to fund the Department of Education's free school meals commitment. The news, announced by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, follows an announcement in September that every child in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools will receive a free school lunch.
09 November 2005
Public schools found guilty of fee fixing
Fifty of England’s top public schools have broken competition law by exchanging information about fees, the Office of Fair Trading has announced. Following an investigation lasting more than two years, the OFT found that pupils’ parents ended up paying higher fees as a result of the information-sharing.
27 July 2012
Free School Meals Shows Improvement In Diet
A report out today casts new light on the power of school meals to help children reach their potential. Research measuring the impact of offering free school meals to more children in specific areas of England found significant improvements in their attainment, as well as benefits for diet and take up of healthy school meals.
19 April 2012
Children's Society Warns Benefit Changes Could Leave Children Hungry
A children’s charity has warned that plans to simplify the welfare system could result in thousands of England's poorest children missing out on free school meals. The meals are linked to low-income benefits that are among those merging into a single Universal Credit in 2013.
05 January 2015
P1-3 Pupils In Scotland To Receive Free School Meals
P1-3 pupils across Scotland are to receive free school meals, the Scottish Government has announced. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the measure, which will benefit an additional 135,000 pupils across Scotland and will save families of every eligible child at least £330 a year. The Scottish Government is providing revenue funding of £70.