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Many schools need to make improvements to prepare for FSM

09/04/2014 Kelly
Around one in three schools will need to improve their kitchens to provide free meals (FSM) for children, new figures reveal.

Some 2,700 institutions will have to upgrade their facilities, according to the BBC, which obtained the information by submitting a freedom of information request.

Improvements to be carried out range from having a new microwave or dishwasher installed to a full refurbishment.

Many schools (1,700) have no kitchen facilities and will need to have hot meals delivered by external caterers or prepared at nearby institutions and transported in, which is already a common practice.

Several of the local authorities which disclosed information said their funding allocation was adequate to make the necessary improvements, while others said it fell short of estimated costs.

Schools minister David Laws told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The anecdotal evidence and the noise that you tend to get will tend to be from what can sometimes be a small minority of schools, and I take their concerns seriously.

"But what you don't hear about, and what I do hear about, is the vast majority of schools that are on track to deliver this."

The Department for Education (DfE) is allocating funding for the improvements and said it is working to support schools making the changes.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg made the announcement about school meals at last year's Liberal Democrat conference.

All children in reception, year one and year two will be entitled to FSM under the new arrangements.

The policy is aimed at saving money for parents, ensuring children eat at least one nutritious meal a day and improving youngsters' education.

It will help children to concentrate in class and encourage healthy eating habits that could benefit them throughout their lives.

Funding plans were announced for the measure in December, when the deputy prime minister revealed that £450 million had been allocated for the 2014-15 school year and £635 million in 2015-16.

In response to the BBC's investigation, the DfE said it is providing £150 million to improve kitchen and dining facilities and £22.5 million to support small schools make preparations for FSM.

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801711133-ADNFCR
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