Universal free school meals plan faces fierce criticism
Criticism from teachers up and down the country and an ex-Tory minister has rained down on the proposed universal school meals plan this week, all arguing that the scheme will place unprecedented strain on schools.
The £1bn scheme suggested by Nick Clegg to give all five- to seven-year-olds free school meals was always a controversial move. It would come as little surprise, then, that criticism has been hurled at the scheme since the announcement that it is to be implemented from September 2014.
The National Association of Head Teachers is among the teachers who have disapproved the move, with Gail Larkin telling EdExec that “this policy was a nice soundbite and took us all by surprise – it just wasn’t thought through properly”, and also claiming a trial school had to now start their lunches at 11am and finish them at 2pm.
Possibly the most devastating blow to the scheme has been the comments from a former Tory advisor, Dominic Cummings. Cummings was one of Michael Gove’s closest advisors until three months ago when he quit his role at the Department of Education (DfE). Now he has made claims highlighting the growing tension in the DfE, in which he calls the scheme a “bad gimmick” based on “junk” calculations that was initially rejected by the DfE.
However, the schools minister David Laws assured the BBC earlier today that the scheme was well thought out and would be effective.