Authority cuts mean fewer free dinners for school children
THE number of children receiving free school meals in Scotland’s schools has fallen slightly due to cuts made by councils.
According to figures released yesterday by the Scottish Government, 19.6 per cent of the total school roll currently receives free meals, a fall of 0.6 per cent on the previous year.
The government said the fall was due to a reduction in the number of local authorities with free school meal initiatives in the early years of primary school.
The figures also showed that the number of pupils taking a school meal, which was either free or paid for, increased from 47.8 to 48.7 per cent in a year.
The uptake of free school meals is often used as an indicator of deprivation, with those schools in the poorest areas having the highest numbers of pupils obtaining free lunches.
In recent years, the Scottish Government has extended free school meal eligibility by including children whose parents or carers are in receipt of both maximum child tax credit and maximum working tax credit and an annual income below £6,420.
In August 2010, new legislation allowed local authorities to provide free school meals to children in P1-3. However, it is these initiatives which have been cut back in the past year, according to the government.
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