Free school meals for pupils from P1-P3

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The introduction of free school meals for all P1 to P3 pupils from January 2015 has been welcomed by politicians in the Borders.

South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse, who lives at Ayton, stressed that the move shows the “SNP’s commitment to investing in Scotland’s future” by helping children “facing poverty as a result of Westminster’s harsh cuts agenda”.

However, the free school meals scheme for P1 to P3 children is largely funded with extra money from the UK Government which will be received by the Scottish Government as a result of a similar scheme being introduced in England. Last month teachers unions urged the Scottish Government to use the additional money to do the same in Scotland and last week they agreed to do just that.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for education, said: “The introduction of this policy will ensure our youngest pupils receive a nutritious meal in the middle of the school day. We will have a clearer understanding of the impact the scheme will have on the Borders once we receive further details from the Scottish Government.”

Paul Wheelhouse added: “Parties across the political spectrum should be welcoming this move which will ensure children in the Scottish Borders will get access to better nutrition.

“We know that it is an investment in Scotland’s future – children – which will pay significant dividends in terms of improved health and education outcomes, leading to enhanced life outcomes and wider societal benefits.

“While the UK Tory Chancellor has warned of another £25 billion cuts that will continue to hit the most vulnerable in society, the SNP Scottish Government is investing in our future and helping protect those facing poverty and especially children.”