The Mirror is reporting that Nicky Morgan has been urged to make sure 160,000 more children get free school meals by introducing automatic registration for those eligible.
Labour MP Frank Field called on Ms Morgan to back his bill forcing councils to register automatically all kids eligible for the meals.
He told MPs there were an estimated 160,000 children in England who were entitled to free school meals but not getting them.
As a result a “large number of children went to bed hungry and took that hunger to school with them,” he said.
Mr Field said his Free School Meals (Automatic Registration of Eligible Children) Bill would give local authorities the powers to identify and automatically register all children eligible for free school meals.
But it also ensured that those parents who do not wish their children to receive free school meals had the power to opt out.
Despite having the backing of more than 125 MPs, including several Tories , it will struggle to become law unless it receives government backing.
Mr Field said: “…The policy of automatic registration for free school meals has delivered a win-win situation in those areas of the country that have been bold enough to embrace it…”
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “…it is up to parents whether to claim those they are entitled to, and the vast majority do so.
“There is a very strong incentive for eligible parents to sign up, not just because of the meal but also because of the significant additional funding free school meal children attract through the pupil premium.”
See more on this directly from Frank Field in the Guardian at: My proposed bill could give 160,000 hungry children a hot dinner each day
We know the introduction of universal free school meals for infants has had a considerable impact on the numbers of parents registering their children, which has in turn affected pupil premium payments for schools.
Is the idea of letting local authorities identify and register those eligible the right way forward?
Any concerns about, for example, issues of privacy if parents don’t want this kind of information to be made more widely available?
Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…
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