The Conservatives have abandoned one of their key election pledges, after axing plans to provide free school breakfasts for all primary school pupils in England.
In the manifesto, the Prime Minister had pledged to replace free school meals for state pupils with a free breakfast provided for ‘every child in every year of primary school’.
The manifesto claimed: ‘We do not believe that giving school lunches to all children free of charge for the first three years of primary schools – regardless of the income of their parents – is a sensible use of public money.’
But SchoolsWeek now claim that that the pledge was quietly abandoned in the House of Lords earlier this month, with official confirmation coming in the form of an answer to a written question earlier this week.
Robert Goodwill, the Children’s Minister, said on July 24: ‘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.’
Slamming the U-Turn, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner claimed it was further evidence of a ‘weak and wobbly’ Tory government.
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She 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.
To think that they spent the election campaign telling us that universal free school meals were unaffordable and promising to provide free breakfasts instead – at a paltry 7p a serving. Just weeks later they have abandoned that pledge as they beat a full scale retreat from their own manifesto. How can anyone believe a word they now say?’