Evaluation of the uptake of - and influencing factors on Free School Meals provided for P1-P3 students

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The Scottish government introduced Free School Meals (FSM) for all primary school children in P1-P3. This policy was implemented in January 2015. Prior to that, only children from financially disadvantaged families were eligible for FSM, other children had to pay for their meals at school. This change does not extend to children in P4-P7, who still have to pay for their school meals, unless they fulfil certain eligibility criteria, based on parent’s income.

The study aims to compare the uptake of FSM after January 2015 to the uptake pre-January 2015 in P1. Although the policy was implemented for P1-P3 students, only data covering P1 pupils is available.

We are interested in what factors are associated with the uptake of FSM. Some might be parental anxiety, household income, parent’s attitude, etc.

We also have data available about the child’s sibling. That enables us to establish if and what effect the uptake of FSM has on older siblings who have to pay for their school meals.

The findings of this study will be of interest to UK governments, especially the Scottish government. It provides information on how successful FSM are, and informs future policy making. In addition, the study may also be of interest to researchers in related disciplines, since it analyses data which was not available in the past and provides novel results.

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