Infant Free School Meals

Frequently Asked Questions

Given that Warrington Borough Council is the sole provider of a school meals service to all Warrington primary schools it has been agreed with the School Meals Working Group of Headteachers that WBC School Meals Service will take the lead in planning and coordinating actions required in order to be ready to implement in September. The Account Manager for each area will undertake an impact assessment for each school. This will require headteacher input so that everyone is clear about the actions required, by when and who is responsible for each action. The Account Manager will be in contact with each school in their area before 28 February to arrange an appointment and the appointment will need to happen before the end of March.

The School Meals Service will be required to ensure that the meals on offer meet Government expectations on food standards. The intention will be to work with headteachers and catering staff so that the meals service menu encourages parents and pupils to take advantage of the opportunity of a free meal.

The DfE has tested the initiative in 5 pilot authority areas and found that free school meal registration is now higher than before and pupil premium has not been adversely affected. This was largely due to the approach taken by the Local Authority and schools to compulsory registration for school meals. Further details will be shared with headteachers once this is available to us so that a similar approach can be adopted in Warrington, as appropriate.

The Government will provide revenue funding to schools (equivalent to £2.60 for each infant meal taken) and therefore it will be necessary for the Service and schools to work in partnership so that the revenue cost of the changes can be contained within the overall funding package available. Schools may make additional contributions for individual school budgets if necessary. The Government has also announced capital funding for investment where necessary. 

Although the Coalition Government advise that they are committed to extending this policy to include Key Stage 2, there is no guarantee of funding currently to support a roll out.

The School Meals Service has anticipated that this may be an issue in those schools with cashless catering and has identified a simple solution that will help to reduce queuing times. This will be discussed with the Headteacher and Catering Staff at the schools affected.

The School Meals Service is aware that some parents (and headteachers) would prefer smaller portion sizes for younger children. Implementation of this new policy provides an opportunity to review all aspects of the meal offer, including portion size, in accordance with DfE expectations on food standards.

The DfE has advised that they do not believe that it is possible to meet there expected food standards by eating the food typically contained within a lunch box. Consequently there is no provision of funding from the Government for packed lunches.

All relevant information (or useful links to information sources) will be published on the School Meals Service webpage of the Council intranet.

Each week we will also review this FAQ document and add any new questions received with our response.

You can call Susan Stephens, the Team Leader for School Meals in Warrington on 01925 443083.