Free School Meals: Summer Holidays

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education 4:18 pm, 16th June 2020

I should make some progress, if my hon. Friend will forgive me, because I am very conscious that Mr Deputy Speaker requested that we keep our speeches short.

Next summer, I want to be looking at how we can do so much more to support our children by making sure that we see a greater and larger roll-out of our holiday activities programme, including through the new £1 billion fund that we pledged in our manifesto to help to create more high-quality childcare, after-school clubs and support during holidays. But I think we all understand that this is not a normal year. Schools have been closed as part of the essential measures that we have taken to defeat this deadly virus. We took that action in order to save lives, but I knew when we took that decision that our focus had to be on those who were most disadvantaged. That is why we were one of the first countries in the world to keep schools open for children from the most vulnerable backgrounds; it is why we invested more than £100 million in remote education, including delivering laptops and internet access to some of the most disadvantaged children so that they can continue learning—I very much want to look at how we can start to expand that and do more to ensure that all children have the support they need; and it is why we took swift and decisive action to ensure that we could continue free school meals for eligible children who were staying at home.