Councillor Ashley Walsh, Labour Councillor for Petersfield and their Spokes on Cambridgeshire County Council for Resources, has questioned if the government pledge for a hot free school lunch for all 5 – 7 year olds from September 2014 can be delivered across the County. Speaking at the County’s Full Council meeting on Wednesday 11 December, Cllr Walsh raised concerns to the Tory Cabinet Member for School, Cllr David Harty.
Cllr Walsh said: “After the dismal Ofsted report on primary school performance in Cambridgeshire, delivering on the pledge of a free hot school dinner to all 5 – 7 year olds has become even more important. An increasing number of children are turning up at school hungry and unable to concentrate on learning. But it seems the government has failed to do its own sums properly and has raided the Schools Maintenance Budget for the £150 million black hole in making sure schools have suitable kitchens. In Cambridgeshire 80 schools will need urgent work on their kitchens to ensure they can deliver a hot school dinner by the start of the next school year.”
Cllr Walsh added: “As yet there is no information on what this will mean for the Pupil Premium which is an important source of funding for each primary school but is based on the number of pupils on the Free School meals register. We must make sure that any change to how it is calculated doesn’t mean schools end up paying for the government’s pledge with less money for teaching and less money for crumbling buildings.”