Parents that choose to give their children packed lunches instead of opting for meals cooked by the schools may face fines under new arrangements put in place by some schools.
Some parents are being charged £1.80 every day for the privilege of allowing children to eat their own packed lunches.
Squeezed budgets have been given as the reason for introducing the fees. The NASUWT union had originally uncovered the charges, which were then reported in the Times Educational Supplement. The union said it expected more schools to adopt the practice as budgets are cut.
Patrick Roach, the NASUWT’s deputy general secretary, told the TES: “Now just sitting in a dining hall and unwrapping your sandwiches is considered to be an optional extra, it’s disgraceful, it’s shocking.
“Parents should be appalled in just the same way that we’re appalled.” The union said it expected more schools to adopt the practice as budgets are cut.
Even the Department of Education has spoken out against the fees, with a spokesman telling the TES it was “absolutely unacceptable” for schools to charge children to bring in packed lunches”.
In 2013, a report commissioned by the Department for Education said that parents should not be allowed to have control over what their kids eat during school time, over fears that it may not be “healthy”.
Instead, the report says, parents should instead be made to purchase school meals as the “healthier option”. They suggested parents should spend the £1.2 billion that annually goes on packed lunches on school meals instead, and double the take-up percentage over five years.
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