Labour manifesto will pledge to expand school meals

Party confirms pledge to offer free school meals to all primary school pupils will be included in its manifesto for the December election.

Amy Gibbons

School meals

The Labour Party manifesto will contain a pledge to "end the stigma" surrounding free school meals by ensuring they are available to all primary pupils.

At the time of writing, the party had not yet confirmed how the plans would be paid for.

However, it made the same pledge during the 2017 campaign trail – and said at the time that it would be funded by the introduction of VAT on private school fees.

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The coalition government, in power from 2010-2015, introduced free school meals for all infants, and some older children from disadvantaged backgrounds are also currently entitled to them.

The confirmation came alongside another pledge to invest £1 billion to fund a new generation of Sure Start centres, known as Sure Start Plus. This would see 1,000 new centres opened across England, to reverse the cuts made since 2010, according to the party.

Labour said it will also expand free childcare to 30 hours a week for "all two- to four-year-olds", which it claims will save families "thousands of pounds a year". 

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “Investment in the early years can transform the lives of children and their families across this country, just as the last Labour government transformed mine.

“The Tories have slashed funding for Sure Start leading to a loss of 1,000 centres, while their so-called free childcare offer locks out those families most in need of support.

“Labour will make high-quality early years education and access to Sure Start Plus a right for all families, in a country for the many, not the few.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: "The fight against disadvantage begins in the early years, and Labour’s policies recognise this.

"Expansion and quality improvement can best be achieved in a context where the public sector plays a leading role. It is essential that the next government recognises and gives full support to our world-leading local authority maintained nurseries, which have suffered greatly from government cuts, and continue to face an uncertain future."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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