Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has today backed the Labour Party’s pledge which ensures that an incoming Labour Government will provide free school meals for all primary school children, a change that would benefit tens of thousands of children across Tameside and Stockport.
Labour’s policy will benefit the educational attainment and health of all children while ending a subsidy to some of the more privileged academic institutions; Labour will fund the policy by introducing VAT on private school fees.
Research confirmed by the National Centre for Social Research (1) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (2) has shown that offering universal access to free school meals significantly improves educational attainment through improvements in pupils’ productivity, enabling primary school pupils to advance by around two months on average.
The provision of free school meals also has been proven to improve the health of pupils through better nutrition – with over 90 percent of pupils eating a school lunch consuming food or drink containing vegetables or fruit (including fruit juice) compared with only 58 percent of pupils who eat packed lunches.
Across Tameside and Stockport the policy would cover over 47,000 primary school children, with over 600,000 more children across the whole of the North West positively affected.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“I’m proud that the Labour Party has made this national pledge which has the potential to help millions of school children across the whole country.
“Absolutely no child in the UK should go hungry at school, its plain wrong. Now however, evidence from several respected reports proves categorically that school children perform better when fed healthy meals, which include fruit and vegetables.
“The next Labour Government will provide all primary school children in Denton and Reddish, and across Greater Manchester, with a free school meal.
“Labour will invest in our schools, and make sure no child is held back because of their background.”
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, and MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said:
“The Government’s cuts to the school budget across Greater Manchester are making school meals worse and limiting the number of children that can be fed. This decision affects the educational attainment and health of pupils.
“Introducing universal free school meals will mean that over 4 million primary school children nationally, and 47,000 locally in Denton and Reddish would benefit from free school meals every day of the week.”