Tag Archives: free school meals

LibLink – Nick Clegg: Scrapping free school lunches is an attack on struggling families

Nick Clegg writes with great passion in the Guardian about the Tory plans to scrap universal free infant school lunches:

So much for compassionate Conservatism. So much for helping the “just about managing”. During my time as deputy prime minister, I repeatedly blocked the Conservatives from proceeding with tax, welfare, education and pensions policies that did not cater for the neediest in society. I became wearily familiar with the Conservative party’s habit of placing greater priority on the needs of “their” voters than those of society at large.

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Let’s get some national campaigns going on issues the voters care about

Our Party is all about campaigning. It is what saved the old Liberal Party from extinction and what sustains us in difficult times. I know local parties up and down the country are running campaigns on many different issues, but we lack some important national ones.
What about Europe I hear you say, or the Human Rights Act?

Well, yes, the EU and human rights are important issues and we do have to campaign for them, but they are not high on people’s list of concerns.

Apart from Europe, we have individual initiatives launched by the leader or an MP, which is great. I am thinking in particular of Tim Farron’s prioritising of housing, and Norman Lamb on social care. However we need that little bit extra, something that really captures attention. What I am thinking of are issues where we can get out amongst the voters with a petition and potentially get lots of signature on equally important areas of policy that emphasise our social liberalism.

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LibLink: Tim Farron: Not satisfied with snatching their milk in the 70s, the Tories now seem set to steal the lunches of children

Remember how Mrs Thatcher put an end to free school milk in the 1970s? Our parents really should have known then, shouldn’t they? Anyway, the Tories appear to be getting ready to ditch the free school meals introduced by the Liberal Democrats two years ago.

Tim Farron has written for the Huffington Post making it clear why he thinks that free school meals are important:

Children from all backgrounds, rich and poor sitting down for lunch together, ending any stigma of young pupils having to admit they receive free school meals is a good thing. I will not sit by while the Conservatives equivocate on this. My party is utterly opposed to it’s removal.

The Tories are taking an axe to the education budget at the expense of children’s learning.

Not satisfied with snatching milk in the 1970s, they now seem set to steal the lunches of children.

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Farron: the Tories are turning up at the school gate and stealing children’s lunch money

School meals by COventry City Council Flickr CCLThe Mail reports today:

Ministers are poised to scrap Nick Clegg’s controversial free school meals programme, it emerged last night.

The flagship Lib Dem policy was supposed to ensure all primary school children were given free lunches in their first three years of education.

Tim Farron has responded:

If this goes ahead, the Tories will show they are willing to take an axe to the education budget at the expense of children’s learning.

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LDVideo: Vikki Slade on Free School Meals in action

In Channel 4’s Political Slot this week, Lib Dem candidate for Mid Dorset and North Poole Vikki Slade finds out how the party’s policy of free school meals for 4-7 year olds is having a huge impact locally. You can watch it here.

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The Independent View: Free school meals is universalism at its best – all children benefit, but low-income children benefit most

school mealsSo the summer is over and it’s back to school time. But there is a silver lining to the autumnal clouds: free school meals. On their first day back at school, all infants school pupils (4 to 7 year olds) should be able to sit down to enjoy a free, nutritious meal.

This is one of the rare occasions when politics visibly touches normal family life, saving harassed parents the need to make a packed lunch and saving them money at the same time. Families will save almost £10 a week on average for every child benefiting from the policy.

Families up and down the country for years to come will benefit from the leadership of local and national politicians of all parties in helping to make this happen. From the previous government and local authorities for piloting and taking it forward at a local level, to Michael Gove for backing the idea in principle, to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats for getting the Coalition to implement it. And now the Liberal Democrats have gone even further pledging to extend it to all primary school children if they are in government post-election.

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Clegg on schools, post-Gove: “We need to reset the relationship”

clegg - tardisNick Clegg has used a major interview in the TES magazine to signal a turning of the page in the Coalition Government’s relationship with teachers following the removal of Michael Gove from the Department for Education.

Clegg on Gove’s departure:

“It’s an open secret that Michael Gove and I did not agree on a number of important substantive issues … It’s an opportunity to turn a page on the somewhat acrimonious relationship that existed between the government – and the Department for Education in particular – and a number of teachers,” he said. “We need to reset the relationship. Not, I should stress, by summarily abandoning all government policy or reforms, but first and foremost by ensuring that, where there is debate and discussion between the teaching profession and government, it is conducted in a spirit and tone of mutual respect. And that we seek out every opportunity to celebrate, and not always seek to denigrate, the fantastic work that teachers do.”

Clegg on the teachers’ strikes:

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Laws: “99% of schools now have a plan in place to deliver universal free school meals in September”

school mealsI’ll be honest. If I had the choice over where to direct £500 million a year of taxpayers’ money, universal free school meals for infants would not be top of my priority list.

That said, the sheer desperation of right-wing newspapers like the Daily Mail for the policy to fail just to spite Nick Clegg strikes me as pretty mean-spirited. It’s a policy which is highly popular with headteachers, and will be with parents too. Perhaps more surprisingly, it’s possibly the only Lib Dem policy ever to attract the support of …

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Poll of school leaders and governors: Don’t like Coalition’s education policies – BUT do like Lib Dem Pupil Premium and infant free school meals

05192014 - AD - Hartford 87A couple of findings worth highlighting from a major survey of more than 2,000 school leaders and governors, commissioned by The Key, and carried out by polling firm Ipsos Mori.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to discover that the Coalition’s performance on education is viewed unfavourably: three-quarters of school leaders (75%) are dissatisfied with almost half (46%) saying they are very dissatisfied. However, drill down a level and it’s clear there are some policies which are popular – two of three most …

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Gove and Laws write for Times: We are committed to free school meals policy because evidence shows it helps kids achieve more

20120907-FNS-LSC-0544On his various media appearances this morning, Nick Clegg has been asked whether he ordered Michael Gove and David Laws to write an article setting out the background to the free school meals policy. He  said on Call Clegg that he had suggested it to them that they clarify the situation to reassure parents that the policy will be delivered on time.

This comes after a febrile few days when Dominic Cummings, Gove’s former Special Adviser, has been telling everyone who will listen that this was a policy drawn up pretty much …

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“By the way this orange juice is corked” – Mac on Nick Clegg’s free school lunch plan

We reported last night on the attacks on Nick Clegg’s plan for free school lunches for infants by the Daily Mail and by former Tory adviser Dominic Cummings – and the Lib Dem counter-attack. Here’s the lighter side of things, courtesy the newspaper’s cartoonist Mac:

daily mail free school lunches - mac

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Lib Dems hit back against free school lunch attacks. Clegg on Mail: “utterly wrong”. Laws on Cummings: “utter balls”

daily mail free school lunchesToday’s Daily Mail front page was dominated by an attack on the Lib Dem plans to bring in free school lunches for all infants: “Free school meals fiasco,” it screamed.

Nick Clegg quickly refuted the Mail’s attack in a lengthy post on the party’s website – here’s an excerpt:

The Liberal Democrats are never going to be loved in the pages of the Daily Mail: our open, liberal and progressive brand of politics tends to be at odds with their editorial worldview (to put it mildly). However,

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Nick Harvey writes: Making free school meals work

school mealsYesterday in Parliament I joined with the Children’s Society to chair a roundtable to discuss the Government’s new free school meals policy.

Announced at last year’s Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference, from the start of the next school year (2014/15) all children at infant school in England will receive a free school lunch. The policy, which is projected to cost around £1bn over the next two years, will apply to all children aged 4-7 regardless of their family’s income.

Yesterday’s event brought together MPs with experts in the fields of education and nutrition …

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Free school lunches for infants: 60% of Lib Dems back Nick Clegg’s policy

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’ve been publishing the full results.

(There were a couple of results I ran out of time to publish during the Christmas holiday period – I’m publishing them this week.)

On Saturday, I reported the results of what party members think about school structures. Yesterday, we looked at whether you thought teachers should have formal professional qualifications and if the National …

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Marriage tax breaks: Lib Dem members oppose Conservative plans by 62% to 22%

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’ve been publishing the full results.

(There were a couple of results I ran out of time to publish during the Christmas holiday period – I’ll be publishing them this week.)

Lib Dems oppose married couple tax-breaks by 62% to 22%

The tax break for married couples and civil partners was a Conservative election pledge that has lain dormant during Coalition. Not because of Lib …

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: Campbell-Bannerman, School Meals Pioneer

There has been some controversy about Nick Clegg’s sudden announcement last September that schoolchildren would get a hot meal every day at school for the first 3 years. Some within the Party feel that resources could be better spent. Others argue that it does make a difference, having a direct effect on children’s learning ability.

Clegg though, is not the first liberal to be associated with such a policy, as former Special Adviser Christine Jardine wrote in the Scotsman this week:

Exactly a century ago, the last Liberal government to win a majority at Westminster made their policy compulsory to ensure councils

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Danny Alexander earns a reprieve after strong performance on Andrew Marr

Danny Alexander went on the Andrew Marr Show this morning to talk about the Autumn Statement and the Liberal Democrats’ contribution to the economic recovery.  If I had to pull him up on anything, it’s not getting in any mention of shared parental leave. No Liberal Democrat interview should be complete without it. It ticks all the stronger economy, fairer society, enabling people to get on in life boxes and is one of the best practical demonstrations of  Liberal Democrat values in action that we’ve delivered in government.

He said that the proposed MPs’ pay rise would be wholly inappropriate when there’s pay restraint in other areas of the public sector.

In terms of differentiation from the Tories, he said that Liberal Democrats wanted more taxes on the wealthy, opposed what he called the tax penalty for unmarried people and opposed the removal of housing benefit from young people, which we had stopped in this Parliament.

He also confirmed that free school meals for younger children was a permanent commitment and reports that it was unfunded after 2015 were not true. He said the money was there but the work had not yet been done to allocate them to individual departments.

I’ve done a quick Storify which covers the main points of the interview.

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Free school meals for infants – the controversy over Nick Clegg’s pledge rumbles on

Clegg WatfordI wrote yesterday about Sir Nick Harvey’s forecast that the next election is Labour’s to lose. But there was another issue he focused on in his Huffngton Post interview – Nick Clegg’s conference pledge that all 5-7 year-olds should have free school meals, regardless of their family’s income status.

“It was absolutely astonishing. It came from nowhere,” he exclaims. “It seemed to be part of some coalition deal where it was meant to make the Lib Dems feel better about allowing the Tories to progress their wretched married

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Opinion: The marriage tax allowance is no free lunch

We could give kids free lunch up to the age of 11 if we did not have this silly marriage tax allowance …..

In my last blog on the marriage tax allowance I wondered what we would gain for Lib Dem acquiescence over the illiberal and expensive marriage tax allowance. It is not what I expected but I quite like it.

In the most obvious bit of horse-trading in this coalition yet we won free school meals for five to seven year olds. (I hope that is as far as the involvement of horses goes – sorry!)

I don’t want to

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Clegg: “Every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day”

school childrenNick Clegg’s speech to the Lib Dem conference on Wednesday will contain one new, significant policy announcement: all pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from next September.

In addition, disadvantaged students at sixth form colleges and further education colleges in England will also be eligible for free school meals also from next September. Money is also being provided for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but as education is a devolved issue, it will be up to those running schools there to decide whether …

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Dan Rogerson MP writes… Tackling disadvantage must start before school

Today Nick Clegg announced that the Government was extending the roll out of free Early Years education for all families who meet the free school meals criteria.

This means that the children of parents who are struggling to make ends meet and who rely on state benefits like Income Support or Child Tax Credits will now be entitled to free Early Years education from the age of two.

Sound familiar? That’s because Liberal Democrats in government have been consistently ensuring that one of the Coalition Government’s main priorities is closing the attainment gap between the poorest children and the better off.

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  • User AvatarDave Page 22nd May - 4:52pm
    Link to Colin Rosenstiel's copy (with apologies for typo in previous comment): http://www.rosenstiel.co.uk/aldc/commpol.htm
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 22nd May - 4:25pm
    It might be a good idea to download it; following Colin's sad demise, we don't know how long the Rosenstiel web site will last. [Note...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 22nd May - 4:08pm
    @ Katherine Pindar & the 6% was quickly followed by another 9% Can I appeal to everyone to either ignore Polls or look at them...
  • User AvatarDave Page 22nd May - 4:01pm
    "Theory and Practice of Community Politics" is pretty much my go-to book as a Lib Dem and I'd advise anybody read it (IIRC there's a...
  • User AvatarJennie 22nd May - 3:59pm
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  • User AvatarMichael 1 22nd May - 3:17pm
    @Katharine Pindar Obviously the most important thing we can all do is get down to Lewisham East (and I need to wean myself of LDV...