Southwark highlights the importance of universal primary free school meals

20 September 2022

On Tuesday 6 September, Cllr Jasmine Ali, Southwark Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education spoke at a National Education Union (NEU) event in the House of Commons on Free School Meals.

The event was chaired by Kim Johnson MP and Cllr Ali was joined on the panel by speakers from End Child Poverty, Z2K and the Child Poverty Action Group. 

As part of the NEU’s No Child Left Behind campaign, they are asking the new Prime Minister Liz Truss to provide Free School Meals for every primary school child.

Southwark Council has offered Free School Meals to all primary school children since 2013 and Cllr Ali used her speech to discuss the impact that this has had in the borough. She also spoke about the benefits of a nutritious lunchtime meal for children, both for their health and their ability to concentrate on their learning.

She noted that means testing free school meals often ‘singles out the most disadvantaged children’ and that ‘when prices are rising, means testing is like trying to hit a moving target. Families that were coping yesterday cannot cope today.’

Cllr Ali rounded off her speech by pledging her support for the NEU’s campaign and an amendment that Kim Johnson MP is looking to table to the Schools’ Bill on extending Free School Meals, highlighting that both Scotland and Wales have committed to extending Free School Meals to every child in primary education.

Page last updated: 20 September 2022