§ Mr. George Rodgers
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if the results of the October census of school meals are now available; and how they compare with those of the census carried out in 1974.
§ Mr. Mulley
In October, 5,893,000 pupils at maintained schools in England and Wales took the school dinner compared with 5,773,000 in October 1974. The proportion of pupils present taking the meal, 70.1 per cent., was the same as in the previous year. Free dinners served in October numbered 784,000 or 13.5 per cent. of the total compared with 750,000 or 13 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 schools and those bringing their own food to eat at midday. The numbers were 26,000 and 517,000 compared with 26,000 and 458,000 last year.
On the day of the census, school dinners were being taken by 77.1 per cent. of all pupils present in primary schools—76.5 per cent. last year—and by 60.3 per cent. in secondary schools—60.4 502W per cent. last year. All but 1,200 of the snack meals were being taken in secondary schools and 9.4 per cent. of secondary pupils brought sandwiches compared with 3.8 per cent. of primary pupils.