HC Deb 29 January 1981 vol 997 cc490-1W
Mr. William Shelton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the results of the October 1980 census of school meals; how they compare with those for October 1979; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Macfarlane

The information is as follows:

1980 1979
Numbers as % of pupils in attendance Numbers as % of pupils in attendance
—on payment 2,810,601 38.3 3,956,170 52.2
—free 724,257 9.9 898,768 11.9
Pupils bringing own food 1,982,122 27.0 951,769 12.6

A detailed statement of the returns from local education authorities from which these national figures are taken is being placed in the Library.

Analysis of the LEA returns shows the following proportions for primary and secondary pupils, as percentages of pupils attending the respective sectors.

primary secondary
1980 1979 1980 1979
Pupils taking school meal
—primary 53.4 75.5
—secondary 41.7 50.6
Pupils bringing own food
—primary 30.5 9.1
—secondary 23.8 16.7

The average reduction in percentage take-up of school meals by secondary pupils was significantly lower for the 22 authorities which have introduced cash cafeteria systems into all or almost all of their secondary schools than it was for the 17 authorities which have converted none of their schools.

By comparison with 1979, the number of pupils attending school on the day of the census fell by 3.2 per cent. Allowing for this change, the number of pupils eating on the school premises, taking the school meal or bringing their own food, fell by 1.5 per cent. A significant factor affecting the number of pupils bringing their own food is that prior to April 1980 many schools, particularly primary schools, did not allow pupils to bring their own food to school.