Gazette editorial- Free school meals are a bonus- but there’s other education priorities too

The Scottish Government’s implementation of a free school meals policy for every child in Primaries one to three is bound to have significant positive effects.

And the effects of the policy are sure to be warmly welcomed by many families across Carrick.

Managing household bills continues to be a struggle for many families in this area so it will be a weight off the shoulders of many that their young children are being provided with a healthy school meal each day.

If this also helps to improve the statistics in the number of nutritious meals children eat each day, then that is sure to have benefits within the school classroom as well as outside the school environment. Free school meals are to be welcomed but there also needs to be some caution over a policy which rightly looks excellent on paper.

Whilst helping families with food bills is to be commended, there are clearly other major priorities in our schools as well.

Class sizes on average remain relatively high meaning children could miss out in particular on more one-to-one based teaching opportunities.

And whilst there has been significant investment recently in schools in this area, including new primary school openings at Kirkmichael and Barrhill in 2014, the Government is spending £95m on the free meals scheme.

The hope is that the money being set aside for the introduction of free school meals will not be to the detriment of council budgets which are being used to make many schools in the Carrick area fit for purpose in 2015.

North Carrick councillors have rightfully complained recently about the lack of action on a new Carrick Academy in Maybole. Whilst the policy of free school meals will be welcomed in people’s wallets, it is hoped that other priorities in Carrick schools won’t suffer as a result of this legislation and there will also be investment in school buildings and more teaching staff.