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Children ‘more than a penny in debt’ won’t be fed school meals, says headteacher

11 Nov 2021 2 minutes Read
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay.

Pupils will not be allowed school meals if they are more than a penny in debt, a headteacher has said.

In a letter to parents Neil Foden, the strategic head of Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Penygroes, Gwynedd, said the school cook had been told not to give food to any child “if their debt has not been cleared, or, in the future, to children whose accounts do not have enough money to pay for lunch”.

Parent’s have been set a deadline of November 19 to get their children’s accounts up to date. The reason given for this was that there was a a deficit in the school meals budget at the end of the last half term.

He apologised for the approach but said the “scale of the default means that something clearly has to be done”.

The email has been shared on social media and has been criticised by angry parents.

‘Shocking’ 

One parent said: “Absolutely shocking. What the hell’s wrong with system, the child might not know mam and dad are struggling to pay, it might be the only food that child eats that day.”

Another said: “If they would actually let you pay your £1.60 bill Without having to pay a min payment of £10, would be a help. Seriously!”

Foden added: “Closer inspection revealed that this was because a handful of pupils had run up debts totalling more than £1,800. Unfortunately, this means that I have had to take the following steps.”

He said: “All debts over £10 will be transferred to the authority and parents will be invoiced by the council.

“All debts of over £0.01 will receive a message from the school to clear debts and credit the system by Friday, November 19th.”

The email then outlines what further steps will be taken by the school including refusing to serve children food.

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Ed Jones
Ed Jones
18 days ago

Is he by any chance related to the Neil Foden as highlighted in this article from September, 2020? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54300055 Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle, what were you thinking?!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
18 days ago

Who provides the money for school dinners? Yes, the parents do. But this excuse for a headteacher, one Neil Foden, wants to punish their children for any payment default by denying them food? Surly another avenue could be used rather than this form of mental & phyical abuse of a child by denying them sustenance? What do teachers always say to pupils. Eating breakfast is energy for the brain and encourages learning.. But this so-called headteacher is abusing not only his position as an educator but neglecting his responsibility to protect the well-being of the children in his school. Shame… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Y Cymro
ArgolFawr
ArgolFawr
18 days ago

Unpaid bills are a loss to a schools budget. A budget thats already insufficient to carry out it’s primary function… education.

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
18 days ago
Reply to  ArgolFawr

When did ‘budgets become more important than feeding hungry children, find some money raising initiative to pay for these children’s food! Starving children is NOT an option!

ArgolFawr
ArgolFawr
18 days ago

With respect, you find a money raising initiative to feed the children. Even better, an initiative to help parents priorities their finances and seek help from the right agency before clocking up a £1800 tab. Also bear in mind free school meals are provided to those on low incomes. What teaching resource has the school had to drop to cover that kind of money.

Carol Loughlin
Carol Loughlin
18 days ago

As another poster has said, school budgets are already stretched. If the school has to cover the shortfall until accounts have been brought up to date then the money has to be taken from somewhere else so what do you suggest the school can do without? Maybe the electricity bill or the heating bill, or perhaps staff wages, or even school books?

If there is a need for a fundraising initiative surely that is something for the PTA to take on rather than the teaching staff?

Sion Cwilt
Sion Cwilt
18 days ago

It’s situations like this that highlight the need for change and the adoption of a free school meals for all children policy, such as has been the case in Finland since 1948: https://www.educationfinland.fi/school-meals/finnish-model

While we’re about it, we could also adopt a few more Finnish educational policies to improve our state education system.

j humphrys
j humphrys
18 days ago
Reply to  Sion Cwilt

I can testify to that, Sion. Like to add that pre-school kids often get breakfast too, which may be cheese sandwich/milk, or porridge.
In 1948, Finland was a poor country, but independent. Note, Independent!

Last edited 18 days ago by j humphrys

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