Magazine Archive

It seems that all I’m doing at the moment is digesting a meaty or complicated report! While last month it was the 179-page LACA/EPI report into Universal Infant Free School Meals, this month it’s the government’s response to its own consultation on Free School Meals eligibility under Universal Credit. You’d need to be hiding under a mound of snow to have avoided the furore around the government’s proposals late last year and its confirmation in February that it would be placing a cap of £7,400 on family earnings to be entitled to Free School Meals (FSM). This will apply to new claimants of Universal Credit (UC) from April 2018 and will be fully rolled out by 2022 when it will reach all existing claimants with no change in circumstances. Many people in the industry think this is missed opportunity: currently every UC claimant is entitled to FSM and The Children’s Society claims that one million children in poverty will miss out on a free lunchtime meal under the new system. The government stands by the fact that universal UC entitlement to FSM would cost far too much and unnecessarily help middle income earners. But The Children’s Society is pushing for change and you can find out how you can help in this month’s Big Interview with Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society, on page 12. Meanwhile on page 16 I digest the report and highlight what changes will be taking place and questioning if a potential fall in FSM eligibility could have a negative impact on the overall school meal service, particularly in areas with high numbers of FSM. Pat Fellows also gives her views on the report on page 50. Elsewhere this month I took a trip to meet the catering team at St Wilfrid’s RC College in South Shields (page 20), a finalist for the 2017 EDUcatering Excellence Awards, to see how this self-managed catering service is using innovation and its freedom of control to create a successful operation, so much so that exec chef Rob Bullock is sharing best practice with other local schools.

  • Big Interview: A mission to save Free School Meals

    Big Interview: A mission to save Free School Meals

    Government proposals for a new low-income threshold of just £7,400 will mean a million children in poverty miss out on free school meals, a leading child poverty charity warns

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  • Leaning over the cliff edge

    Leaning over the cliff edge

    The government has confirmed how it will set eligibility criteria for Free School Meals under Universal Credit. But what does this mean for school caterers and is the future as bleak as it seems?

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  • Going solo

    Going solo

    Running an in-house catering service can be an isolating experience, but Rob Bullock and the team at St Wilfrid’s RC College are fully committed to creating standout provision that can be replicated with others, writes Morag Wilson

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