Assessing the impact of Government policy of universal free school meals for children in Key Stage 1
ISER has been awarded new funding from the Nuffield Foundation to assess the impact of the Government’s policy of universal free school meals for all Key Stage 1 children (ages 4-7) in primary and infant state schools.
The policy was introduced in September 2014 by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government with a view to improving the health and educational outcomes of the nation’s children, following a government-commissioned independent review of school meals and children’s eating habits in schools.
- Children’s educational performance at age 5 (with supplementary analysis at age 7);
- Children’s personal, social and emotional development at age 5;
- Children’s Body Mass Index and rates of children being underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese throughout reception year in school (age 4-5);
- Children’s school absences due to illness and medical appointments in infant school, between ages 4 and 7;
- Children’s take-up of school lunches, both among newly eligible children and those who were already eligible for free school meals.
Dr Birgitta Rabe, Principal Investigator of the study said:
“The policy aims to improve children’s educational attainment, social skills and behaviour, to ensure children have access to a healthy meal each day and develop long-term healthy eating habits and to help families with the cost of living, removing disincentives to work. At a running cost of around £400 per pupil per year, this policy is a sizeable investment into children, and it is important to know whether it has delivered its aims.”