Sinn Féin Moor Councillor Sharon Duddy has said that it’s important to ensure a school day for child is cost free.
She said “Although primary and secondary education is in principle free, in practice there are many costs involved. These include the expense of school uniforms and sports kits, books, supplies, and educational trips. These costs can put serious financial pressure on families with low incomes.
“One priority is to encourage all children entitled to a Free School Meal to avail of it.Currently 20% of Free School Meal entitlement is not taken up. In some cases, this is due to the perceived stigma attached to collecting a Free School Meal. One way to counteract this would be to introduce pre-paid swipe cards for all children. Pupils would then be unable to distinguish between those who are and are not entitled to a Free School Meal.We should also explore financial support for children entitled to Free School Meals to cover other school costs such as books and supplies.
” In addition, the absence of Free School Meals during holiday periods like Easter time can put financial pressure on already hard pressed families. A number of pilot schemes to provide these children with nutritional meals during holiday periods are underway. If these pilots are successful, the scheme could be rolled out on a larger scale.