Posted in Free School Meals, Funding, schools

Are you ready for universal infant free school meals?

This week we have two  blog posts by our guest blogger, Morag Lyall, editor of EDUcatering magazine which offers a monthly look at the school food industry. Watch out for part two on Friday!

“It has been over four months since Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced funding of £600m to provide free school meals for every child in reception, Year 1 and Year 2. With a planned implementation date of September 2014, school leaders must act quickly to ensure they are ready for the extra mouths to feed. Are you ready for universal infant free school meals (UIFSM)?

In my last blogpost I explained the reasons for providing every child in Key Stage 1 with a hot, nutritious meal every school day. Here I will explain how schools can go about providing it and where to receive help to deliver it successfully.

By now, schools in England should have received a letter from David Laws, Minister of State for Schools, outlining what UIFSM means. In it, he announces some of the funding allocations, which will help schools improve their facilities and services to deliver UIFSM. Details of capital funding to improve kitchen and dining facilities totals £150m. Of this, £102,742,203 has been allocated to local authorities, £26,401,641 to voluntary-aided schools and £20,856,157 to academy schools through the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund. Funding is determined by pupil numbers. A breakdown of the funding can be found here.

Schools will be allocated a flat rate of £2.30 per meal taken, based on actual take-up by newly eligible infant pupils, which will be measured in the Schools Census from next year.

You are entitled to a share of this funding pot and are advised to contact the head of catering at your local authority or equivalent to learn how you can access it. Making direct contact with them will ensure you do not get left behind, which is of particular concern among small and rural schools.

This isn’t the only funding being provided. The Department for Education has invited tender bids for a separate £17.4m fund for organisations and individuals to help schools and local authorities in three areas:

  • Lot 1 – to support school readiness to provide school meals to all infant pupils (£9.6m)
  • Lot 2 – to increase take up in at least 2,000 junior and secondary schools where take up of school lunches is very low (£4.8m)
  • Lot 3 – to set up breakfast clubs in at least 500 schools where over 35% of pupils are eligible for free school meals and there is no existing breakfast provision (£3m)

The closing date for tenders was on 17th January and it is expected that details of the successful bids will be announced in mid-February. However, this funding will not necessarily affect individual schools directly.

Catering in small schools is a major concern for the industry and to help with this, transitional funding of £22.5m will be allocated to small schools in 2014-15, to be provided at the start of the new academic year. Details of this will be made shortly and a Small Schools Taskforce has been set up to look in depth at the issue.

It is worth stating that the Pupil Premium will not be adversely affected by UIFSM, although schools will need to make sure that they introduce some form of compulsory registration system. Guidance on this will be provided by the DfE shortly. ”

On Friday we’ll post guidance on the next steps.

You can find more information about funding Free School Meals on our Schools Revenue Funding topic.




I'm an ex-teacher with a real passion for education, politics and teaching. I am also a keen writer and blogger with strong opinions.

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