Conservatives abandon manifesto plan for free school breakfasts

The Independent reports that the Conservatives have officially abandoned a flagship manifesto pledge to provide free schools breakfasts for all primary school pupils in England. 

The manifesto, drawn up by the Prime Minister’s former chief-of-staff, had included plans to replace free school meals for state school pupils with a free breakfast for “every child in every year of primary school”. 

Following the inconclusive election result and with the Conservatives stripped of their majority in the Commons, ministers said the Government would “retain the existing provision” and dropped its plans to axe free school meals for infant pupils from better off families. It was still unclear whether plans for free school breakfasts would go ahead. 

According to Schools Weekhowever, the breakfasts were quietly abandoned earlier this month in the Lords – and an answer to a written question was only addressed this week during the parliamentary recess. 

On 24 July, Robert Goodwill, the children’s minister, said: “As announced by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System on 4 July we will not be pursuing universal breakfasts for primary school children and we will be retaining the existing provision for universal infant free school meals.

“We will however invest in a breakfast club programme as announced in the Childhood Obesity Plan in August 2016. This committed £10m a year of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to expand breakfast club provision in up to 1,600 schools. Further details of the programme will be announced in due course.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, told The Independent: “This is yet another humiliating u-turn on education policy from Theresa May’s weak and wobbly Government. Breakfast doesn’t mean breakfast, and they have made a mess of it.”

Read more Conservatives abandon manifesto plan for free school breakfasts

What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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