31 May 2022

Families forced to choose between heating and eating, says headteacher

News Correspondent

Teaching unions have written to the chancellor asking for the free school meals scheme in England to apply to all pupils whose families are on Universal Credit.

They claimed that the cost of living crisis has left many more children struggling to afford a school lunch, but do not qualify for what they call the “restrictive” criteria for free meals.

In England, 1.7 million children – around one in five pupils, are eligible for free school meals.

But only if their family’s household income doesn’t exceed £7,400 after tax – not including welfare payments.

Teaching unions and charities say free school meals should be extended to all families receiving Universal Credit – helping another 1.5 million children.

The Food Foundation estimates such a move would cost an extra £670 million a year.

The government says it’s already providing extra support – an extra £15 billion to help with the cost of living.

We spoke to Pepe Di’lasio, headteacher of Wales High School in Rotherham and President of the Association of School and College Leaders.