The UIFSM initiative may have brought much work to catering equipment distributors, but it seems the schools that were especially meant to benefit from it are not so positive towards the scheme.
The policy has been criticised as being rushed through, with some schools lacking adequate kitchen and dining facilities.
Other commentators have also raised concerns that for the schools which have had their kitchens refitted, the extra water, gas and electricity costs incurred by using the catering equipment have been overlooked. “Unlike the one-off costs associated with catering equipment, these are ongoing costs which schools will have to meet year on year. No extra money has been provided for this,” said Mary Clarkson on the Banbury Cake website.
Furthermore, headteachers in Oxford have claimed the initiative has caused them huge problems, as some primary schools have lost out on Pupil Premium funding, used to help disadvantaged pupils, due to fewer parents signing up.
Before UIFSM, the Pupil Premium was granted based on how many children were registered to get free lunches. But now eligible parents must register separately for the school to receive the Pupil Premium for their children, worth £1,300 per student.
Oxfordshire headteachers have claimed many parents have not registered, because they are not aware of how the funding works or because of social stigma.
Lynn Knapp, headteacher of Windmill Primary School in Headington, Oxford, told Banbury Cake: “An awful lot of money is being invested in UIFSM. I always thought the money could be better spent on education around healthy lifestyles and teaching children to cook.”