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Evaluation of Free School Meals

Document type: Projects: In progress/completed
Document language: English
Uploaded By: Allan Colver (allancolver)
Date Uploaded: 2012/01/20 12:01:21.103 GMT+1
URL to a webpage or document based online:

Basic Information

Authors: Emily Tanner, National Centre for Social Research
Published on Date: 2009
Funding source project: Department for Education (DfE)

About this study

In 2009 the Government pledged £20 million to make more free school meals available to primary and secondary school pupils in England.

We want to find out if the pilots increase the number of children taking up free school meals and if they're value for money. We'll see what effect the pilots have on children's eating habits, if children become healthier as a result of the pilots and whether they improve their performance at school.

How we are working

The study will focus on three Local Authorities that are making free school meals available to all primary and secondary pupils or raising the income threshold so more pupils are eligible.

We are conducting this study in partnership with the Institute for Fiscal Studies, on behalf of the Department for Education and Department of Health.

Potential policy impact

The success of the free school meals pilots will inform what decisions the Government makes about future free school meal provision.


Impact will be measured by comparing outcomes for pilot schools and schools who aren't taking part in the pilot, before and after its introduction.

We'll be measuring the following outcomes: the take-up of free school meals, the eating habits of children at school and home, a childrens' body mass index, their behaviour, concentration and attainment and their absence from school.

Outcomes will be measured by conducting a longitudinal survey of parents and pupils over three years, analysising school data about take-up of free school meals and carrying out telephone interviews with school caterers.

Riche Classification

Demography: All , Child (primary school: broadly 5-10 years) , Older child (secondary school: broadly 11-16 years) ,
Population Groups: Socio-economic status ,
Child Related Topics: Parental/guardian reporting about children , Household data , Educational institutions , Primary education , Secondary education , Education professionals , School health services ,
Health issues, determinants and measures: Food and nutrition , Nutrition , Food and nourishment , Diet ,
Languages and Geographical Perspective: United Kingdom , English ,
Study type / scale / state of progress / setting: Longitudinal study - cohort, trend, panel , Survey research , Structured interviewing , Evaluation research - of policy or of practice, interventions. , Household , School , Selected representative localities within a country , Ongoing , Professional research ,