UK Elections Topic #2: Free School meals for all pupils – is the policy justified?

Catching up with general election topics….

In early April, Labour had indicated that they want to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils in England, by charging VAT on private schools fees.

Though yet to evolve in its entirety, I think this is a policy in right direction.

Studies confirm that extending free meal to all will improve overall pupil performance; this IFS report says students made 4 – 8 weeks more progress over a two-year period.

The policy will help the students, teachers (with improved pupil performance) and parents (by not only saving money but also knowing that their child will get a healthy meal in school).

As for any policy, there are critical comments on this idea as well, the prominent one being “why feed rich kids?”

I would like to look at this topic not from a rich-parent’s viewpoint but from that of state, which has an obligation to offer the best care without any discrimination to its future citizens – whether the pupil is coming from rich or poor background.

One of the other benefits of primary-wide free meal is that it will stop the “supremacy” claims in classrooms, similar to “my family is feeding you free meal”.  Free school meal to all will bring an end to these class-based boasts – which of course do not originate in kid’s minds;  these feelings  are injected in a very few kids from somewhere else.

Another argument is why make private schools pay for public school free meal?

Private schools are ultimately business establishments – businesses with aim to make profit; it is only fair that they are taken out of the subsidies they now enjoy – to provide facilities including equestrian centres and recording studios in some cases.

Instead of subsidising private education, it will be much more beneficial for the state to create a more equal level playing field for all the students by strengthening main, public education system.

Let me end this post with a comparison of education with health.

Vast majority in UK support public, free health/NHS for all.  We overwhelmingly believe that a person’s bank balance should not dictate his/her eligibility for the best available health care.

Now, replace the word “health” with “education” in above line – what is your opinion now?

 

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