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School Meals

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 15 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the estimated annual cost to local education authorities of employing staff to supervise children bringing packed lunches to school and clearing up after them.

No estimate of this cost is available. The total cost of providing midday supervisory assistance in schools in England in 1978–79 (the latest year for which information is available) was £43 million.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of schools have facilities for children to eat packed lunches.

Prior to April 1980, the majority of schools allowed children who wished to do so to eat packed lunches. Under section 22(1)(b) of the Education Act 1980, local education authorities have a duty to provide adequate facilities in all their schools for pupils who bring their own food to school. My right hon. and learned Friend has no reason to believe that any authority will be unable to comply with this.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of children in secondary schools (a) have free school lunches, (b) pay for school lunches and (c) bring packed lunches; and how this compares with the figures for one year ago.

The latest available figures relate to Autumn 1979. The information for that and the previous year is as follows:

MAINTAINED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND
As a percentage of pupils present
Pupil categoryAutumn 1979Autumn 1978
(a) Taking free meals10·111·9
(b) Paying for meals41·542·9
(c) Bringing own food16·715·5

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to publicise the provisions of the Education Act regarding school meals, in view of the confusion in secondary schools which is resulting in different provisions through the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

A circular letter dealing with the school meals provisions of the Education Act, 1980, was sent to all local education authorities on 3 April. The text was incorporated in a departmental circular about the Act published on 2 May, copies of which were made available to the press. Copies were also placed in the Library of the House and are available in the Vote Office.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many secondary schools have had to close one or more of their kitchens because of falling demand for school lunches.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities are allowing pensioners to eat at schools following falling demand for school lunches by children; and if he will make a statement.