Edinburgh’s education leader has welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has agreed to meet additional costs for providing free school meals for all P1 to P3 pupils.
They will provide £4.5m capital funding for the City of Edinburgh Council to build new dining accommodation and upgrade catering facilities across the city.
Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee, said he was pleased that the Government had met their commitment to fully fund the policy.
“There have been a number of discussions between the Council, Cosla and the Government over recent months regarding the additional capital funding needed to fully deliver the extended entitlement to free school meals in Edinburgh.
“There was a real danger that that we would not be able to fully deliver this policy due to the additional costs involved but I’m pleased the Government has put the funding in place.”
The £4.5m from the Scottish Government will fund the following:
- New gym halls at Cramond and East Craigs Primary Schools
- An extension to the dining hall at Towerbank Primary School
- Additional dining accommodation at Sciennes Primary School
- Minor works to other schools to provide additional dining capacity and upgrade catering facilities
Cllr Godzik continued:
“The minor works required in some schools have already been completed or will be complete before January 2015. Obviously the new buildings and extensions will take some time to deliver but we will put in place interim measures in those four schools to ensure those pupils who want to receive free schools meals from next term can do so.
“It has been an uncertain few months for many parents and staff at the affected schools but I’m sure everyone is relieved that the funding has been agreed. We will of course ensure parents are kept up to date as the plans progress.”
Learning Minister Dr Alasdair Allan said:
“Free school meals will also play an important role in improving attainment in schools, through offering children healthy and nutritious lunches that will help them achieve their best in class.
“It’s never too early for children to start learning about the benefits of healthy eating and free school meals, in addition to learning through Curriculum for Excellence, will play a big role in helping to deliver that message.”
Colin Keir MSP for Edinburgh Western welcomed the news today of the funding.
Commenting Colin Keir MSP said:
“This news is very welcome. I have been campaigning since I was the local councillor for a separate dining hall for East Craigs as the current hall doubles as a gym.
“This is good news too for Cramond Primary where I’m sure news of this investment will also be warmly welcomed. Investment in these new halls will not only improve the accommodation and facilities, but also allow them to provide the Scottish Government’s promise of free school meals for P1-3 pupils. In the aftermath of the former Labour government’s financial crash and in the teeth of the Tory/Liberal Democrat austerity agenda slashing budgets, it is testament to the good stewardship of the Scottish Government that this extremely welcome investment has been achieved. ”
A report outlining the background to the Free School Meals will be discussed at the Education, Children and Families Committee on Tuesday 9 December 2014.