ASCL comment on NAO investigation into free school meals voucher scheme

02/12/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the National Audit Office report into the free school meals voucher scheme.
 
Commenting on the National Audit Office report into the free school meals voucher scheme, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“While we appreciate the challenge of setting up a national free school meals voucher scheme in difficult circumstances, the launch of the Edenred system went way beyond a few teething problems, and felt to schools more like a meltdown.
 
“The system was completely unable to deal with demand and schools experienced significant difficulties in accessing the scheme to obtain vouchers for struggling families who desperately needed this support.
 
“It is difficult to work out why this level of demand was not anticipated by the Department for Education or Edenred as the number of children claiming free school meals is hardly a secret.
 
“Even in the constrained timeframe involved it should have been possible to do better than the chaos which ensued.”