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DfE quadruples summer-holiday funding for disadvantaged pupils

The £9.1 million scheme will offer meals and holiday activities for 50,000 children

child footballers

Funding has more than quadrupled for a scheme offering free meals and recreational activities to disadvantaged children over the summer holidays.

Around 50,000 children are expected to benefit from the £9.1 million Department for Education scheme. 


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The funding increase follows the success of a similar £2 million programme during the summer of 2018. As part of this programme, charities and community groups provided meals and activities – such as football, play sessions and cooking classes – for more than 18,000 children across the country.

This year, activities on offer include a range of sports, healthy-cooking classes for children and their carers, as well as targeted support for the most vulnerable families. 

Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families, said of the expanded scheme: “School holidays should be a chance for children to have fun experiences, and make lasting memories – no child should miss out on that.

“Yes, these clubs will ensure children get a nutritious meal. But they will also offer the chance to socialise with friends and take part in activities, such as sports and healthy-cooking classes, to keep pupils active and involved in their communities throughout the six-week break from school.”

The Department for Education will use the 2019 programme to continue its research on how best to support children who are eligible for free school meals over the school holidays. They will be testing a new model, in which local coordinators oversee and fund clubs in their areas. 

The coordination role will be undertaken by a wide range of organisations, including a school, local authorities, community foundations and charities, all working with local providers. 

Among the 11 regional coordinators receiving a share of the £9.1 million is children’s charity Barnardo’s. 

Steve Oversby, regional director of Barnardo’s East, said: “All children have a right to a happy and healthy life.” 

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