WQ90847 (e) Tabled on 29/01/2024

How does the Minister plan to minimise the stigma for those who continue on the free school meals programme into secondary school, given that the stigma of free school meals was a factor in the Welsh Government's universal primary free school meal rollout?

Answered by Minister for Education and the Welsh Language | Answered on 05/02/2024

In secondary schools, we continue to provide free school meals to those pupils eligible via benefit related criteria - ensuring they have access to a healthy and nutritious meal during the school day. No child should be denied an offer of a meal if they arrive to school hungry and my officials have previously written to local authorities reminding them of their discretionary powers to be able to provide meals without charging. In addition, we continue to promote the support available to those who need it most, including information on help with school costs, what is available in their local area, and resources to help with the cost of living.

Legislation places a duty on local authorities or governing bodies to take reasonable steps to ensure that a pupil cannot be identified as a person who receives a free school lunch. My officials, continue to remind local authorities of their legal responsibilities in this regard.

The universal provision of free school meals in primary schools is being carried out in collaboration with Siân Gwenllian MS, the Plaid Cymru lead designated member, as part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.