Borders tucks in to free school meals pilot

2nd November 2007 at 00:00
A council whose primaries are taking part in the free school meals pilot has had to employ more than 20 new members of staff and invest in everything from freezers to additional knives and forks.

Scottish Borders Council has traditionally had a low up-take of free school meals - a third of pupils entitled to meals claim - but as of the end of last month, in its primaries, the council is expecting a surge in interest. It predicts that, due to the universal free school meal pilot for P1-3 pupils, uptake in primary schools will increase by over 50 per cent, requiring an additional 1,761 meals to be prepared every day.

This, the council admits, will pose "significant challenges", mainly in relation to the additional equipment and personnel needed to cater for the rise in demand. In total, the council estimates that the pilot will cost them pound;657,000, most of which was supplied by the Scottish Government.

Borders is one of five councils taking part in the six-month free school meals pilot. The others are East Ayrshire, Fife, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

The project has come in for criticism from children's charities who say six months is not long enough to gauge the impact of free school meals. However, Adam Ingram, the Children and Early Years Minister, has said if the pilot is a success the Government will consider making free school meals available to all Scottish children in early primary, costing up to pound;46 million - a move that would involve the purchase of a considerable number of knives and forks, if Borders is anything to go by.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today