The Real Reason, Or Just A Hidden Benefit?

Henry Dimbleby on the implementation of his ‘free’ school meals for all idea, the School Food Plan:

My co-author, John Vincent, and I visited more than 60 schools while writing the plan and saw what a huge difference extending free school meals can make.

“Our children did better in exams,” one County Durham head told us. “At the same time, the culture in the school improved in subtle but important ways.

It’s been great to avoid the old them-and-us divisions of the packed lunch kids going off to eat separately from the school lunch children.”

But it’s really all about educational achievement, I’m sure…

This is the rarest of things: a political idea that has true cross-party support. A Labour idea – it was Ed Balls who commissioned the pilot schemes – taken up by the Tories. Michael Gove commissioned the School Food Plan and trenchantly supported our recommendation for universal free meals. The Lib Dems succeeded in getting the budget agreed.

Which only goes to show, I suppose, just how little the three main parties differ at heart, doesn’t it?

Not one of them seems to think that the benefits of this might not actually be worth the costs of implementation or the precedent that will be set by it.

Because it’s not going to stop. They are already looking to increase it. Of course:

With such broad support, there is a good chance it might even be extended. There are already discussions going on about providing free meals for children all through primary school.

TANSTAAFL, though.

This policy has the potential to transform the culture of our primary schools and the lives of our children in a way that only those who have seen it in action can truly appreciate.

As one child at Sheringham primary in Newham put it: “There used to be a lot more fights. Everyone gets on now because we all sit together and eat together.”

Here we have the dreaded ‘policy by anecdote’ that is so often decried by the left (until they want to use that very same tactic).

Still, someone’s doing well out of it. What, you thought this was just for the benefit of the kiddies?

Headteachers are not expected to manage all this on their own. The government is tendering for experts to go into schools and help them.

Ahhh, ‘experts’. Is there nothing they can’t do?

9 comments for “The Real Reason, Or Just A Hidden Benefit?

  1. john in cheshire
    January 27, 2014 at 10:03 am

    As you say, now it’s been started it will never end and can only increase in size, breadth and cost. When is the time to come when our public servants stop spending our money without first asking us if we want to pay?

    • January 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Eye. We will soon be getting free meals at work. And free meals on free wheels for those who can’t be bothered to work.

      It’s not fair that only children get healthy meals, surely. :mrgreen:

  2. Ed P
    January 27, 2014 at 11:11 am

    If all children are given a meal at school, their Ritalin, Soma,etc. could be added surreptitiously. No more bad behaviour!

  3. Lynne at Counting Cats
    January 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Where do they get the idea that this food is free? Is it being provided by the school dinner fairy then?

  4. Errol
    January 27, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    A decent packed lunch – my own – costs me £2.50 a day roughly. It’s got a banana, a two round sandwich, an apple and a packet of mini cheddars.

    OK, it’s not the ritz but it’s a lunch for an adult male. A ‘free’ school dinner costs about the same. The difference is, it stops the parent being responsible for the child. I make my lunch – and the sproglets – the night before. It’s called being a parent. When the state removes that simple, basic responsibility from parenting: providing food it will start to take every other responsibility away until a child is removed at birth and raised in a commune in a state approved way.

    This policy is lethal. It must be stopped and the lazy parents who refuse to provide for their children made to do so.

  5. Voice of Reason
    January 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    TANSTAAFL – Heinlein fan, perchance?

  6. Furor Teutonicus
    January 28, 2014 at 11:03 am

    This has nothing to do with money, or anything else. Rather the dictatorship taking control of the diets and eating habits of the nation.

  7. Junican
    January 28, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Oddly enough, this is not an idea to which I object. I see school as a place which takes charge of a child during the whole of the school day. (By the way, I’m talking only about primary school)It makes sense to me to regard school lunch as just part of the educational cost. School lunch has educational benefits in terms of good manners, discipline, conversation. Also, I see no reason that ‘the benefits of scale’should not keep costs low. On the other hand, I see no reason that it should be obligatory, provided that the parent collects and delivers the child.

  8. amfortas
    January 31, 2014 at 1:24 am

    These ‘experts’ they are going to bring in…. they used to be called ‘dinner ladies’. It will make huge problems for the Counselling and Psychology Industries though as all those dinner ladies of yore decamped into those fields when the last school meals program was ended. I am concerned that the Education authorities might have to recruit from the women over the fence hanging out the washing to shore up the psycho fields and we all know how their ranks have diminished over the years.

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