Free School Meals extended

The Government has announced this week that Free School Meals are being extended to a further 1.5 million children aged between 7 and 16.

A new government-ordered review has urged action, after finding that poorer children are being left behind academically, due to the effects of poverty and hunger, which are showing a dramatic rise due to COVID-19.

The report proposes expanding eligibility for the programme.  At present children from households earning less than £7.400 before benefits are eligible.  The expansion could allow all children of parents receiving Universal Credit to receive Free School Meals. An expansion of the current holiday activity and food programme to all areas of the country is also recommended, along with an increase in the value of Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women and families with children under 4.

You can read the full National Food Strategy report here, or see a news item on it in the Independent.

 

Government’s new obesity strategy

There are many measures int eh Government’s new obesity strategy that will benefit children, including a ban on advertising unhealthy food before the watershed, regulations around online junk food, advertising, and restrictions on instore promotions. You can see more about this on the Government’s press release, which links to the rest of the strategy information.

 

New Special School for Cornwall

The new school for children with special educational needs planned for Bodmin got a step closer this week, as the Special Partnership Trust was announced as the partner for Cornwall Council to run the school. The school will have 65 places, for children aged 5-16, and is planned to open in January 2022, with plans to become a centre of educational excellence for pupils who have a significant level of Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

All pupils who attend the school will be placed by Cornwall Council and have education, health and care (EHC) plans. Council staff are already working closely with the Department for Education on the design for a smart, purpose-built new school building.

For more details, see Cornwall Council’s press release.

 

A ‘lost generation of teens’ caused by COVID-19

The Children’s Commissioner has produced a report that looks into the lives of children who are falling through the gaps, becoming invisible to statutory services, and at risk of being drawn into gangs. Before COVID-19, 1 in 25 teens were already ‘slipping out of sight’, and many more could now be at risk, due to the lack of structure of the past few months, and regular contact with schools. Nationally, the risk is on aceratge 4%, with teenagers in Liverpool, Medway and Blackpool most at risk with a rate of over 7%.  In Cornwall the rate is 3.62%.

You can read the full report on the Children’s Commissioner’s website, and an article about it in the Guardian.

 

Smart Savings Funding to support families in Cornwall

Local charity Smart Savings has secured funding to support families in Cornwall, with counselling, benefits and debt advice, and family health & mindfulness sessions. These services will be free and confidential, and can be accessed by contacting Jane on jane@smartsavings.org.uk or 07760 214254.

Families First Covid Flyer