Free school meals: Heads hail new initiative

This Is Wiltshire: Heddington pupils pick up some cooking tips in the new kitchen at the village hall next to their school Heddington pupils pick up some cooking tips in the new kitchen at the village hall next to their school

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating for primary schools in north Wiltshire as they embrace the free school meals initiative.

The scheme has allocated £2.30 a child per meal and funding will be given as a set amount for the autumn and spring term, with adjustments in the last term.

Headteacher at Queens Crescent School in Chippenham, Julia Hawkins, said: “It has gone well. We had a trial last term to see if we could cope with the increase in numbers and that went really well.

“We’ve had an increase in children having hot school meals.”

As well as gearing up to provide children aged five-to-seven with meals at their own school, Corsham Primary is making lunches for neighbouring school, Shaw Primary.

Ruth Hopkinson, school business manager for Corsham Primary School, said: “We are very lucky we have a fully functioning kitchen already providing hot meals and we have the capacity to increase output.

“We are in as good a position as it gets for a primary school and in a lot better position than some of the others.”

One of the issues the school has faced is getting a supply of cutlery and crockery in time for the start of the new term.

“Everyone was ordering the same items at the same time,” said Mrs Hopkinson.

“So the stuff hasn’t come but we have contingency plans in place to get around it.”

Heddington Primary School, in Heddington, near Calne, has seen the number of pupils having a hot school meal double since the introduction of the scheme.

This term around 30 of the 60 pupils are now enjoying a hot meal at lunchtime compared to just 15 pupils at the end of last term.

Meals are being cooked in a new kitchen in the neighbouring village hall funded by a £10,500 grant from the government and the Salisbury Diocese.

The kitchen is across the playground from the main school building and is leased to the school between 8am and 5pm.

Head Ashley Martin said: “It works perfectly for us and I can see the numbers are going to rise. It’s the perfect opportunity for children to have a good nutritious meal. I think it’s important.”

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