Councils still assessing whether schools will be ready for free meals for infants

Councils are assessing how ready schools are for the introduction of free schools meals for infants.

Councils are assessing how ready schools are for the introduction of free schools meals for infants. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Five months before the introduction of free school meals for infants, councils are still assessing how ready their schools are.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last year announced all infants will be entitled to free schools meals from September 2014, but there has been concern about whether schools are ready for the new policy.

Norfolk County Council said it is in the middle of an assessment of all schools, which will determine which are in priority need of an upgrade.

Although it does not know how many schools do not have a kitchen, Norse provides catering services to 117 primary school dining centres which do not have full on-site kitchens. However, it said not every school which lacks a kitchen will need an upgrade.

The council has received £1.9m of government funding, which it said it will prioritise to allow schools to meet their duty.

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Cambridgeshire County Council also said school requirements are currently being assessed.

It will receive £1.431m from the government for the implementation of universal infant free school meals, and warned there is no additional funding available from Cambridgeshire County Council, so any additional requirements would have to be met by individual schools.

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Suffolk County Council said 239 kitchens or dining centres in primary schools need additional or new equipment, from fridges and freezers to cooking and service equipment. Seven kitchens or dining centres will need to be upgraded, extended or re-designed.

It has received £1.745m of government funding.

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