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Government extends free school meals vouchers scheme over Easter holiday

michael gove cabinet office free school meals vouchers
Michael Gove - Photo: Richard Townshend CC BY
06 Apr 2020
The Government has said free school meals (FSM) vouchers will be made available over the Easter holidays, despite previously saying they would be provided only during term time. Schools across England and Wales broke up for the holiday on Friday (April 3rd).

On Saturday, April 4th Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, a former education secretary, said schools will be able to supply vouchers to vulnerable families over the two-week break.

Previously the Department for Education (DfE) had said: “It is for schools to decide locally how their arrangements for free school meals will operate.

“While the vouchers are for term time only, if there is a local arrangement to supply food that the school and the supplier intend to continue over this period then that can be agreed and managed locally.

“This would need to be manageable within schools’ existing resources, as there will not be additional funding available for this purpose.”

Gove changed that when he said on Saturday: “Teachers have kept schools open for those who need them, and parents have kept their children at home wherever possible.

“So we enter the Easter holiday weeks with school attendance having been around just 2 per cent, ensuring that the most vulnerable can be cared for.

“For children eligible for free school meals, vouchers will be available over the holidays to support household incomes.

“But I’m conscious that more must be done, particularly over the holiday period, to support children at risk and in need. I will be saying more next week about work in this area.”

Schools are still open for the children of key workers over the Easter holidays, estimated to be 2% of the 9.5m school age children in the country.