Commenting on Free School Meals Provision for P1-3 Pupils in Dundee Schools
Laurie Bidwell, Labour's Education Spokesperson in Dundee,
26 January 2015
The text of his speech at the meeting
Convener, I wanted to make some supportive comments about the implementation of free school meals to P1-3 pupils from the beginning of the current Spring Term.
I also have a couple of questions at the end.
With just less than a year's notice from the Scottish Government to prepare, I think that the extension of free school meals to all P1-3 pupils from the start of this term seems to have gone smoothly.
And for that we should give credit where it is due to those that reviewed school servery and dining areas and those that planned and carried out the improvements.
In my own area, I know that the additional servery point at Barnhill Primary School has helped to speed up the process of queuing up for lunch and accommodating the increased demand for school lunches.
Of course it is probably too soon to evaluate the impact of this policy into practice.
I am pleased therefore to welcome the review, promised in the paragraph 4.9 of the report, which will happen in 2015/16.
When that Review is undertaken, I hope it will take in a wider sweep of not just the free school meals extension but also the Breakfast Clubs.
When Labour introduced these, we argued that for children who are hungry on their way to school it was a priority to feed them first rather than wait until lunch time.
Convener will you agree that the review of the Free School Meals Provision will take in the Breakfast Clubs as well?
We know that our breakfast clubs are well supported by children in their primary schools.
At Craigowl Primary School for example 120 children are registered in the Breakfast Club.
As you know some of the parents and carers who attended the recent meeting about proposed catchment area changes at Craigowl were concerned about the availability of a Breakfast Club if their children had to go to another primary school.
Therefore, Convener, can you give the committee an assurance that supporting free schools meals in P1-3 will not be treated as an alternative to a nutritious breakfast at one of our Breakfast Clubs?"
After the meeting, Councillor Bidwell said:
"I am please Councillor Hunter agreed to both of my requests tonight."