Kate Green MP, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary

Kate Green MP, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, opening the debate on extending free school meals through the holidays, said:Kate Green MP 100x100

"I am very pleased to open today’s debate on such an important motion – on behalf of children across our country who are at risk of going hungry, and all the families worried that their children will be hungry over the school holidays.

"But the truth is we should not need to be having this debate at all.

"In summer, when this issue was due to be debated in this House, the government saw sense, did the right thing, and ensured no child would go hungry over the summer.

"But this time, despite many families facing even more challenging circumstances now than they did four months ago, shamefully, the government is walking away from its obligation to hungry children.

"In their hearts, Honourable Members on the government benches, who rightly supported the extension of free school meals over the summer holiday, know that. And they will also know that the thousands of families who rely on free school meals to help them make ends meet will watch their votes tonight with great interest.

"The Right Honourable Member for Harlow and Honourable Member for Newton Abbot have said they will vote for this measure. I commend them for setting party politics aside to do the right thing, and I hope many more of their colleagues will join us.

"Over 1.4 million children benefit from free school meals. Nearly 900,000 eligible children live in areas subject to Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions. Their families face a furlough cliff-edge, an inadequate replacement system, and the deep fear of growing unemployment.

"So the question for Members opposite is simple.

"Are they absolutely confident that support is adequate and that no child in their constituencies will go hungry?

"We do know what the Prime Minister thinks.

"Downing Street said 'it’s not for schools to provide food to pupils during the school holiday'.

"I cannot believe that I have to spell this out.

"It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that children do not go hungry.

"They don’t stop being hungry just because the school bell rings for the end of term.

"And surely our constituents send us as Members of Parliament to this place to vote to ensure that the children who most need our help – at any time of year - are protected?

"So let me say to Members opposite: put party politics aside tonight, and vote to extend free school meals for the sake of our children.

"After all, since the summer holidays, the situation has got worse, more desperate, for millions of families.

"But while the provision of free school meals is being closed, the gravy train is still open for business.

"£7,000 a day for consultants working on a test and trace system that doesn’t work.

"£130 million to a Conservative Party donor for unsafe Covid testing kits.

"£160 million profits for Serco, and an increased dividend for shareholders, because the government threw good money after bad on a test and trace contract that’s robbing the public.

"Yesterday a Business Minister said that extending free school meals is not as simple as writing a cheque.

"But why is it that the money only runs out when it is hungry children who need it?

"And I am surprised that there isn’t greater recognition on the government benches that families across the country are finding it difficult to manage.

"It was only a matter of weeks ago that national newspapers were full of briefings from friends of the Prime Minister reporting anxiety about how he’d provide for his family.

"He had a new baby and, with the loss of his lucrative newspaper columns, his friends said it would be a strain to manage on his £150,000 salary as Prime Minister.

"It is, frankly, contemptible that the kind of concern we read in the national newspapers for the Prime Minister’s finances is not extended to the millions across this country who are genuinely struggling.

"Imagine you’re a parent of one of the over 3,000 children in the Prime Minister’s own constituency who benefits from free school meals. To read one week about how hard it is to make ends meet on £150,000 a year, and then to see the provision of a free meal for your child taken away a few days later, is utterly unjustifiable.

"The fact that we need to have this debate is a sign of repeated failures on the part of this government.

"A failure of compassion.

"A failure of competence in not recognising the challenges parents face, and giving them the support they need to provide for their children.

"And a failure of leadership not to be clear and unequivocal that no child should go hungry in one of the world’s richest countries.

"But where the government have failed to show leadership there have been many others who have stepped up to do the right thing.

"I pay tribute to Marcus Rashford – as the MP for Old Trafford, I congratulate him on his late winning goal last night, and I hope he will score another late victory today when we vote on our motion.

"And I congratulate and thank the many others across the country who are acting and campaigning to end child poverty and food poverty.

"It brings me huge pride to see people come together and take action where the government are failing to do so.

"Co-operative schools are already committing to providing free school meals over the holidays - that represents the very best of the coop movement.

"A movement built on support for one other, helping your neighbours and your community, doing what is right for the most disadvantaged.

"Will the Secretary of State follow their example?

"Colleagues in the Welsh Labour government, and in Northern Ireland and some parts of Scotland, have already committed to providing free school meals over the holidays until Easter .

"Again, I ask, will the Secretary of State follow their example?

"Catering staff across our schools have worked flat out to fulfil their essential role in providing free school meals. They’re among the many low paid workers we have learnt to depend on during the pandemic. But many feel that their jobs and livelihoods are at risk

"Can the Minister tell us what steps are being taken to protect and support the jobs of school catering staff, and others who deliver this support to our children?

"Before the pandemic, there were over four million children growing up in poverty.

"In the months ahead, that number will only increase.

"Child poverty is a pandemic of its own. It is a pandemic that reflects the great evils still haunting our society.

"A society blighted by wages that are not enough for working families to make ends meet, a housing crisis that creates insecurity, and a social security system cut to ribbons by the Party opposite.

"Today’s proposals are not a silver bullet, and they will not end child poverty. They are a sticking plaster, but one that is badly and urgently needed.

"Needed by the 1.4 million children who could go hungry without them.

"By families worried about putting food on the table.

"So will the Secretary of State do what is right, and take this first small step to ensure that over a million children do not go hungry this Christmas?

"As I said at the start, this debate should not even be happening. The government should never have let things go this far.

"They still don’t have to.

"The Secretary of State can stand up now and do the right thing. He can listen to Labour, to campaigners, and to families across the country, withdraw his amendment, and support our motion.

"Sadly, I do not think he will do so.

"Yet months ago, Marcus Rashford asked the question that started this debate, and that saw the government extend free school meals over summer.

"Today I ask the Secretary of State the same simple question: 'Can we all agree that no child should go to bed hungry?'

"I commend our motion to the House."

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 7 hours 14 minutes ago

RT @FENews: #SkillsWorldLIVE is now live: @TomBewick will be joined by special guests @mimsdavies IS LIVE right now... live and direct from…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page