Nicola Sturgeon recommits to free school meals for P6 and P7 pupils after dropping August 2022 roll-out target

Older primary school pupils will receive free school meals under refreshed plans from the SNP/Green government.

Nicola Sturgeon has recommitted her government to introducing free school meals for all pupils in primary six and primary seven.

It comes after the Scottish Government quietly dropped its pledge to introduce the policy by August this year.

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Instead, it will now “start work with local authorities to extend universal provision to all pupils in P6 and P7”, the First Minister told MSPs.

The announcement came as part of the Scottish Government’s programme for government in which it set out its legislative agenda for the coming parliamentary year.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the commitment was just a repeat of failed promises from last year.

Mr Ross said: “She said the same last year, we were promised a rollout of free school lunches for every primary school pupil, so it is just a repetition of that.

"Surely Scotland needs a national government that will focus on these issues rather than a nationalist campaign group instead.”

Nicola Sturgeon has recommitted her government to free school meals for older primary school pupils.

Other investment in education and early learning and childcare will see the design and testing of potential options for an extension to year-round childcare for school-age children.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We will also continue to invest in and improve early education and childcare, and school education.

“Last year, we delivered the expansion of funded early learning and childcare for all three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds.

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“In the year ahead, we will design and test options to extend year-round childcare for school-age children.”

The First Minister also confirmed the introduction of a key education bill, the Education Reform Bill, which will establish an independent education inspectorate and a new public body responsible for qualifications.

This will see Education Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority replaced, as previously announced by education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed the end of the practice of placing children under 18 in young offenders’ institutions as part of a Children’s Care and Justice Bill.

She also announced the government will appoint a new Widening Access Commissioner to build on progress

All episodes of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, are out now.

It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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