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Free school meals on menu

Taking a break from preparations for the education committee's scrutiny of the legislation on free school meals, I was leafing through The TESS and was surprised at the anonymous letter which suggested the SNP Government was avoiding bringing legislation on this topic before parliament.

Can I assure your readers that, as with the legislation which allowed the pilots to proceed, the members of the education, lifelong learning and culture committee of the Scottish Parliament began scrutinising the Provision of School Lunches (Disapplication of the Requirement to Charge) (Scotland) Order 2008 on October 8, and will continue over the next few weeks.

Contrary to your mystery correspondent's assumption, the evaluation of the free school meals pilot has been published and will be considered by members of the committee as we go about our business.

To clear up one misconception: the pilots were not a validation exercise to determine the desirability of providing free nutritious meals to the youngest pupils in Scotland. They were a means of examining the production and provision of these meals to inform the roll-out, pointing up any potential difficulties.

The SNP understands the benefit of ensuring pupils get a nutritious meal, and the benefits that can result for their current and future health and their educational attainment. The provision of that service to the youngest pupils is part of the SNP's ambition to deliver healthier, fitter children.

I'm proud to support that ambition and will not hesitate in excoriating politicians who would deny Scotland's children this small advantage for the sake of scoring petty party political points.

For the order: www.opsi.gov.uklegislationscotlandssi2008draftsdsi_9780111000090_en_1

For the evaluation: www.scotland.gov.ukPublications200808291140330

Christina McKelvie, MSP, Scottish Parliament.

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