Free School Meals: Disability

Department for Education written question – answered at on 15 May 2023.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 24 April 2023 to Question 180692 on Free School Meals: Disability, if she will make an assessment of (a) the potential implications for her policies of the research by Contact entitled Free School Meals survey results, published in April 2023, on the number of eligible disabled children who do not receive free school meals and (b) whether schools are taking adequate steps to ensure that their food provision accounts for medical, dietary and cultural needs.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if her Department will issue guidance to (a) schools and (b) local authorities on making reasonable adjustments when providing Free School Meals for eligible disabled children who (i) have medical or sensory needs and (ii) are unable to attend school due to long term medical reasons and are receiving education elsewhere.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Schools have a duty to provide nutritious, free meals to pupils who meet the eligibility criteria, including being a registered pupil of a state funded school. Free school meal (FSM) provision should be made to eligible pupils either on the school premises or at any other place where education is being provided. The Department expects schools to act reasonably in ensuring that their food provision accounts for medical, dietary and cultural needs and has published statutory guidance, which describes steps school may take, including the establishment of individual healthcare plans which may include special diets. The statutory guidance is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/803956/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions.pdf#:~:text=On%201%20September%202014%20a%20new%20duty%20came,life%2C%20remain%20healthy%20and%20achieve%20their%20academic%20potential.

Local Authorities are funded to support children with special needs, including those who are unable to attend school on a long term basis. The Department’s published guidance on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/illness-child-education.

The Department does not plan to expand FSM to include pupils who are home, or privately educated. The Department will continue to keep eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them.

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