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School Day

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what information is available to his Department on the average duration of lunch breaks in maintained schools; [188980]

(2) what estimate his Department has made of the average length of the lunch-break in (a) secondary schools and (b) primary schools in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement.

The Department does not collect information on the average length of the school lunch break. Schools are required by law to hold two sessions per day during a school term, with a break in between. But it is for schools to decide how long that break should be. We are aware that some schools have reduced the length of the lunch break for a variety of reasons. But we are also aware that having insufficient time to eat lunch can put pupils off taking a school lunch. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families wrote to schools last year asking them to consider their lunchtime arrangements as a means of improving school lunch take-up. As part of its Million Meals campaign to improve school lunch take-up, the School Food Trust is also working closely with schools to improve lunchtime arrangements, including ensuring that pupils have sufficient time to eat their meal.