Cereal clubs 'a gimmick'

5th November 2004 at 00:00
Free breakfasts for primary pupils were criticised as an "expensive gimmick" this week as three ministers launched the Welsh Assembly government's flagship policy.

Peter Black, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said the pound;1.5 million for this year's pilot scheme, involving 98 schools in deprived areas, should have been given to local councils.

He said: "The government should be tackling the scandalously low take-up of free dinners. How can it introduce a new meal when the old one is going cold?"

Assembly figures suggest 30 per cent of secondary and 14 per cent of primary pupils entitled to free dinners are missing out. Janet Ryder, shadow education minister (Plaid Cymru), claimed the Assembly government had failed to spell out how it would pay for the free breakfasts.

But Jane Davidson, minister for education and lifelong learning, rejected the criticisms. "A healthy breakfast enables us to concentrate better, gives us more energy and helps us to develop better eating habits," she said. "Our exciting project will have a major impact on the health and well-being of children in Wales."

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