Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, comments on the joint announcement by the Welsh government and Plaid Cymru that free school meals will be made available to all primary school pupils in Wales by September 2024.
“Credit where it is due to the Welsh government and Plaid Cymru for recognising that the provision of free school meals stigmatises some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Wales. This firm commitment to remove that very visible indicator of poverty from our primary schools is to be welcomed.
“Every child deserves the right to be treated equally but it is a sad fact that up to a third of children in our primary schools are living in poverty and totally reliant on support such as free school meals.
“The problem of course does not start and end in primary schools and we would hope that the Welsh government shows the ambition to extend this important initiative into secondary schools in the near future.
“The announcement today is a good start and a recognition of a serious problem but it will not materially change the obvious inequalities that exist in our society. A huge effort is required by everyone in Wales, including the Welsh government and our local authorities, to tackle the underlying reasons behind disadvantage and ensure that the scourge of poverty is removed once and for all.”