§ Mr. John E. B. Hill
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the results of the October census of school meals are now available; and how they compare with those of the census carried out in October 1971.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
In October, 5,078,000 or 64 per cent. of pupils present at main-170W tamed schools in England and Wales took the school dinner compared with 4,658,000 or 59.8 per cent. in October 1971. Free dinners served in October numbered 850,000 or 16.8 per cent. of the total compared with 805,000 or 17.3 per cent. last year. A detailed statement of the returns from local education authorities on which these figures are based will be placed in the Library. This statement, with the agreement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, includes returns from Welsh authorities.
The census collected information about pupils buying snack meals in school, and those bringing their own food to eat at midday. The numbers were 19,000 and 526,000 respectively, compared with 11,300 and 594,300 last year.
On the day of the census school dinners were being taken by 68.9 per cent. of all pupils present in primary schools (64.4 per cent. last year) and 56.9 per cent. In secondary schools (52.8 per cent. last year). All but a few of the snack meals were being taken in secondary schools, and one in ten secondary pupils brought sandwiches as compared with one in 25 primary pupils.