Following concerns raised by Aontú, with regard to extortionate school uniform costs, Aontú Representative for East Derry; Gemma Brolly welcomes the Minister of Education‘s vow to review School Uniform costs and School Meals criteria.
“Having recently raised the issue of the huge financial burden school uniforms place on families, particularly at this time of year, it was extremely encouraging to learn yesterday that the Minister “vows” to review not only this but also the school meal criteria. Coincidentally, Aontú have received quite a few concerns regarding the operation and quality of ‘free school meals’ particularly in secondary level education.”
“We have heard reports of children receiving free school meals with access to a very limited choice of food. We cannot teach children and publicise ‘5 a day’ on one hand, and then restrict the same children in making positive food choices with their school meal allowance on the other. It is both shocking to learn of children receiving free school meals, only being able to purchase ‘convenient’ foods such as sausage rolls, instead of healthier meals and options. It is even more disturbing disturbing to hear of children having to return items when they realise their allowance does not cover a standard meal. While this may not be the case in all schools, it is certainly the case in some. Fair standards must be implemented across all school canteens.”
“While we are heartened by the news that the minister plans to review the criteria for school uniforms and school meals, Aontú strongly encourage the minister to consult all relevant bodies involved. The views and comments of both parents and children must be prioritised as Parentkind and the new Parent Engagement Group for the North have been instrumental in bringing about this progress. Again, these are issues NICCY called for almost four years ago, we really owe it to our children and their families to consult and action this as a matter of urgency.”