Pupils won't be fed at school if meal accounts are in debt, head says
Pupils won’t be fed at school if their meal accounts are more than a penny in debt, headmaster tells parents
- The head of the school in Wales has set a deadline for pupil’s debts to be cleared
- If children owe just £0.01 the school cook will refuse to provide them with food
- Neil Foden made the decision due to ‘handful of pupils’ who owe over £1,800
- The letter has been met with widespread criticism from the school’s parents
Pupils will not be fed at a school if their meal accounts are more than a penny in debt, its headmaster has told parents.
Neil Foden, the strategic head of Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Wales, issued the ultimatum in a letter to parents on Wednesday.
The warning, which has sparked anger among parents, says the school cook has been instructed to not give food to any pupil ‘if their debt has not been cleared, or in the future, to children whose accounts do not have enough money to pay for lunch’.
The school in Penygroes, Gwynedd, has set a deadline of November 19 for parents to ensure their children’s accounts are up to date.
Neil Foden, the strategic head of Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Penygroes, Gwynedd, said a handful of pupils had run up debts totalling more than £1,800
The letter issued to parents at the school on Wednesday, in which the headmaster apologises for taking the steps
It comes following a deficit in the school meals budget at the end of the last half term.
Mr Foden said: ‘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.
‘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 19.’
The letter also includes details of what further steps will be taken, including refusing to serve children at the school, which has around 450 pupils aged 11 to 18.
Mr Foden apologised for taking the approach, but added the ‘scale of the default means that something clearly has to be done’.
The email has since been shared on social media and has attracted widespread criticism.
Darren Owen wrote: ‘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 parent 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!’
Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in north Wales (pictured) has been criticised for taking the stance that could see children refused food
A third added that, while parents accept bills need to be paid, ‘imagine a child getting his food then being told you’re not eating today sorry, then having to leave’.
Carolyn Roberts, who lives in Caernarfon, said: ‘I would suggest that the head himself tells the kids they can’t eat, don’t put that on the kitchen staff!
‘We’ve gone from giving children free breakfasts to this. Think of the damage this is doing!’
Gwynedd Council have been asked to comment.
The headmaster’s letter comes days after Chancellor Rishi Sunak dismissed a plea from England footballer Marcus Rashford to extend the free school meal programme into the school holidays for the next three years.
The Chancellor said that as furlough had ended a return to ‘a more normal way of doing things’ was needed.
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