UK: Education unions support free school meals policy

UK teacher unions have welcomed the latest Education Policy Institute’s report clearly laying out the benefits that free school meals bring to children and their families, and to quality education in general.

Both the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and National Education Union (NEU) have welcomed the report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) on universal free school meals published on 24 January.

NASUWT:Benefits beyond debate

“The report confirms that even the most significant challenges schools have faced were surmountable and that the small number of schools continuing to face difficulties should learn from those that have implemented the policy well,” said NASUWT General Secretary Christ Keates.  

The “benefits to parents of this policy are beyond debate”, she said, particularly in terms of the costs and time saved by parents. In addition, she noted that the universal entitlement has also helped to promote important debates in schools among parents, pupils, and staff about the benefits of healthy eating.

NASUWT believes it is essential that the Government retains its commitment to this policy, and that it helps schools to share good practice in terms of managing provision.

NEU:Proper funding necessary

The NEU Joint General Secretary Mary Bousted also commented positively on the report. It clearly shows the benefits that free school meals bring to children and their families when schools are properly funded and supported to deliver them, she said.

The NEU believes that this programme should remain in place with sufficient funding to ensure that no child has to go through the whole day without a proper meal, as “no one can dispute the benefits and no one can suggest that hunger is not a problem in schools for children who might slip through the free school meals net”, Bousted insisted.

She also urged the Government to extend universal free school meal provision to all primary school-age children.

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