- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
A Welsh Conservative attempt to limit eligibility for free school breakfasts has been fiercely criticised by Assembly Member Joyce Watson.
On Tuesday (15 January) the Assembly passed a landmark first Education Bill designed to improve school standards, reduce bureaucracy and hand more power to local authorities to decide school mergers and closures.
The legislation also puts a duty on councils to pay for free primary school breakfasts if a school’s governing body asks for them.
However, the Welsh Conservatives voted to make free breakfasts available only to children entitled to free school dinners.
Labour AM Joyce Watson (Mid and West Wales) condemned Shadow Education Minister, Conservative member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Angela Burns, who claimed it was “morally indefensible for children of top-rate tax payers to receive free school breakfasts”.
Mrs Burns argued that parents of children ineligible for free school meals should pay at least £1 to use breakfast clubs.
Speaking after the Bill passed, Mrs Watson hit back, saying:
“Why not ask better off parents to pay for text books too? Or chip in towards the teacher’s pay, for that matter? The Tories are obsessed with means testing, but breakfast schemes are part of the education system in Wales, not an extra benefit. And for good reason – successful breakfast schemes lead to better behaviour, attendance and concentration in class. So why should children of better off parents not benefit too? Their families pay into the scheme through taxation, after all.”