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Free School Meals

Volume 457: debated on Thursday 8 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his latest estimate is of the annual cost of free school lunches; what proportion of the English school population takes free school lunches; and if he will make a statement. (125074)

The Department does not collect information on the cost of free school meals. Individual local authorities or, where the budget for school meals is delegated to them, school governing bodies decide the monetary ‘value’ of a free school meal. We believe that they are best placed to know the individual circumstances within their area, or school, and that is why the decision should be made at local level.

The table provides information on pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and who took a free school meal.

Maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools1: School meal arrangements2—as at January 2006—England

Nursery and primary schools

Secondary schools

Number on roll

4,187,630

3,309,720

Number of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals

670,340

448,680

Percentage of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals

16.0

13.6

Number of pupils who took a free school meal on the day of the Census

556,180

328,750

Percentage of pupils who took a free school meal on the day of the Census

13.3

9.9

1 Includes middle schools as deemed.

2 Includes pupils with sole and dual (main) registration.

Source:

School Census