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School Meals

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what regulations govern the supply of (a) subsidised and (b) free lunches by schools; and if he will make a statement. (202813)

There are no regulations governing the supply of subsidised school lunches.

Section 512ZA of the Education Act 1996, as amended by Section 201 of the Education Act 2002; The Education (Free School Lunches) (Prescribed Tax Credits) (England) Order 2003; and The Education (Free School Lunches) (State Pension Credit) Order 2005, covers free school lunches where a pupil has an entitlement.

Section 87 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 amended Sections 512ZA and 533 of the Education Act 1996, to change the duty placed on local authorities and school governing bodies to charge for school lunches into a power to charge. This enables them to provide school lunches free of charge if they choose to do so.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what estimate he has made of margins of error in the collection of statistics on the take-up of school meals in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; (203107)

(2) what methods have been used by the School Food Trust to assess the rate of take-up of school meals in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008 to date; and if he will make a statement.

We have made no estimate on the margin of error in the collection of statistics on the take-up of school meals in each of the last five years, as we do not collect these statistics. Since 2006, the School Food Trust (SFT) has undertaken an annual survey of local authorities, which has asked them to provide information about school lunch take-up, both primary and secondary, in their area.

Survey reports are available on the Trust’s website at:

http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/doc_item.asp?Docld=34&DocCatld=1

(2006) and

http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/doc_item.asp?Docld=55&DocCatld=1

(2007). The findings indicate the numbers of local authorities (LAs) and numbers of schools within those LAs to which the data on take up of meals relates.

The 2008 annual survey is under way. Questionnaires have been sent to all LAs in England. LAs have been asked to report take up data for all schools in their Authority. Results are expected in July.