School meals

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Free school meals have been available to the poorest children in Scotland for some time. I know this, as I benefited from them for most of my time at school until I left in 1987.

I also know from my own exp­erience that often the free meal is missed at the weekends and over the long summer break.

Furthermore, schools with high numbers of children eligible for free school meals tend to also suffer from low educational attainment.

The link between deprivation, educational outcome and inequality is clear across Scotland.

While the SNP’s action of extending free school meals (your report, 6 January) to the richest families in Scotland will have undoubted benefits, not least the £330 Ms Sturgeon says it will save families each year, my own view is the £95 million used to fund this policy could be better used to tackle more pressing issues in
deprived areas.

At my son’s school in Edinburgh only 2.5 per cent of children are eligible for free school meals and educational attainment is good.

Nonetheless, to make space for all P1-P3 children to have access to a free school meal the school gymnasium is being brought into service as a dining hall.

This has the impact of curtailing my son’s gym classes. Could a school in a more deprived area of Edinburgh not have made far 
better use of this money to, say, run a breakfast club or start adult literacy classes?

(Dr) Scott Arthur

Buckstone Gardens

Edinburgh