Smaller schools must not be penalised in the shake-up of Shropshire’s hot school meal service, parish councillors have insisted.
Alveley councillors are concerned if new school budgets are based on pupil numbers certain schools could be punished. The Government is changing the way it funds primary school meals as part of wider reforms, which could have an impact on lunchtimes at some Shropshire primary schools.
Reforms being introduced from April 2013 will mean Government cash for school meals will go directly to primary schools based on how many pupils they have and how many are eligible for free meals.
It will replace the current system where Shropshire Council gets the money and passes it to its own catering company, Shire Services, to provide fresh hot meals for every primary school in the county.
The changes will mean about half of Shropshire’s smaller schools will face a shortfall in funding that could lead to some of them not being able to provide school meals the way they do now.
Alveley Parish Council chairman David Voysey said: “The council has been made aware that, due to national government direction, funds for primary school meals will be delegated direct to schools instead of the current system of Shropshire Council centrally controlling the funding. School budgets will be based on how many pupils they have and how many are eligible for free meals.
“Councillors are concerned that the change may result in smaller schools facing a shortfall in funding and wish to be assured there will be ways and means that Alveley Primary School will still be able to provide hot lunch time meals for those pupils who want them.”
Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “As the council is no longer able to retain the funding centrally, we really don’t have any choice about whether we follow them or not.
“Yet again, it is a case of rural counties getting the thin end of the wedge, as these changes will pose a particular difficulty for small schools in more isolated areas.”