Get in touch ...

Know of something happening in
us on

E-mail your contributions to:

We are on Facebook at

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Skates raises concerns children refused school meals due to debts

Member of the Senedd Ken Skates has raised concerns that schoolchildren are being refused lunches and turned away at the till because of debts already owed. 

The Clwyd South MS said ‘no child should be humiliated in this way’ – and he has taken the matter up with the local education authority. 

Mr Skates said: “I was contacted by a constituent whose child, a high school student, told her that pupils at her school had been refused a meal and turned away at the canteen till in front of their friends and peers because they already owed money. No child should be humiliated in this way.” 

He also highlighted the incident during First Minister’s Questions and asked Lesley Griffiths MS – standing in for Mark Drakeford – how the Welsh Government is helping. 

Mr Skates said: “I've heard of instances of high schoolchildren who’ve been turned away at the canteen till because their hard-working parents haven’t been able to clear the dinner money debts that they’ve incurred. 

“Would you agree that schools should act with the utmost compassion during these times of financial hardship, and not put young people through such humiliating ordeals? And can you outline what support the Welsh Government is giving to young people to avoid school-time hunger?” 

Ms Griffiths responded: “Yes, I would absolutely agree with you. We know that no child should go hungry, and local authorities and schools should work in partnership with families who are experiencing difficulties with payment of school meals to try and find a solution to ensure that no child goes without a meal at lunchtime. 

“There should be a system in place where parents are reminded in a timely fashion if the balance on their child's account is low, for instance, so that parents can obviously take the action needed. In the case of non-payment, every effort should be made to contact the parent to find a solution, and that might include setting up a payment plan.” 

Ms Griffiths said the Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, has written to councils to remind them of their discretionary powers to provide free meals or implement variable pricing structures. 

She added: “And we've also reminded them of our expectation that no child should be denied an offer of a meal if they turn up to school hungry, because we know that children concentrate far better when they're not hungry.” 

Last year the Welsh Government announced it was rolling out universal free primary school meals, starting with the youngest pupils from September. Ministers are working closely with councils to meet the commitment for every primary pupil to receive free school meals by 2024. 

The Welsh Government also committed £11m to extend holiday food provision for pupils eligible for a free school meal to help low income families and ensure children don’t go hungry in the holidays. 

No comments:

Post a Comment