Date lodged: 6 July 2016
To ask the Scottish Government how many families have qualified for free school meals in each year from 2007.
Answered by: John Swinney 25 July 2016
Information about the number of families who have qualified for free school meals is not held centrally. However, latest statistics on free school meals were published on 22 June 2016 in the Scottish Government statistics publication - Summary statistics for attainment, leaver destinations and healthy living, No. 6: 2016 Edition. Table 1 in the accompanying supplementary data, provides details of the number of children and young people in primary, secondary and special school registered for free school meals in each year from 2007. This can be accessed at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/MealsSD/mealspesd/mealspesd2016.
We are undertaking a data transformation project for children in early learning and childcare to ensure we have data that reflects recent policy changes and ongoing transformation. This includes looking at free school meal uptake in early learning and childcare as increasing flexibility results in more children attending during lunch times. In addition, under the Education (Scotland) Act 2016, children receiving their funded entitlement to early learning and childcare at partner providers are now eligible for a free school meal where they meet the criteria and have a session in the middle of the day. This will also need to be added to our consideration of data collections and analysis once this part of the Act is fully commenced in 2017 (this can currently be delivered on a voluntary basis by local authorities).