COUNCIL bosses are working with headteachers to tackle failings in meeting targets on free school meal uptake. 

During the first three periods of this year, uptake has failed to hit Renfrewshire Council’s target of 75 per cent – instead stalling at 70.2 per cent. 

The performance is also below that of the corresponding period last year, which was 72 per cent. 

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The facilities management service is working with headteachers, parents and young people to provide food that will attract an increase in school meals uptake. 

Schools where uptake has been less than expected are also being targeted as the council looks to address the decline. 

Labour councillor Alison Dowling, member for Houston, Crosslee and Linwood, expressed concern over the possible implications it could have on attainment funding at a board meeting. 

The Gazette:

Labour councillor Alison Dowling was concerned about the failings 

She made the point the allocation of pupil equity funding (PEF) is based on the number of children qualifying for free school meals. 

PEF is cash given to schools to help children from poorer families have the same life chances as those in more affluent areas.

Cllr Dowling said: “If the level of uptake for free school meals goes down then the level of pupil equity funding can be affected.”

She was critical of the process behind free school meal applications, which are returned to the customer service centre at Renfrewshire House. 

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Cllr Dowling added: “I want to change this for families who may not be able to easily access Renfrewshire House.”

Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “I’m quite happy to accept that in principle as long as it goes to the appropriate board.”