Message from Mr Jackson – 30th April
Thank you for your patience regarding the above. This has been a huge logistical challenge for the government to implement and there have been a significant number of problems nationally. We were one of a number of schools across the country that struggled to get access to the national portal despite numerous telephone calls and emails to both the Department for Education and Edenred (the company responsible for the national voucher scheme), Lancashire County Council and the local MPs.
You should have received a voucher which represents four weeks’ provision for your child(ren). This is to cover from Monday 6 April to Friday 1 May. In my initial letter to you I did say that the free school meal provision would not be available over the Easter holidays, but the day after I wrote that letter the government changed their stance on this and agreed to pay this over the holiday period. However, they did state that this payment was a one-off and would not be paid over future holiday periods.
We have requested further vouchers to cover the three weeks between Monday 4 May and Friday 22 May and these should be emailed to you early next week.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Message from Mr Jackson – 16th April
There have been numerous problems across all schools regarding the national free school meals voucher scheme, intended to support children who are eligible for free school meals. This is perhaps not surprising given the scale of the task. Our staff have worked incredibly hard over the past fortnight and we are in the process of registering all eligible families for whom we have a working email address. This should be completed tomorrow, though the website where we register our families is currently ‘down’ as I write this letter. Each families’ details also need to be entered manually, a very consuming task.
Each child is entitled to a voucher for £15 per week, and you should receive an email Eden Red that will allow you to redeem four weeks-worth of vouchers. We have no indication when this email will arrive, but hopefully this will be in the very near future.
The email Eden Red will contain a 16-digit eCode and a link to a website to access these vouchers: www.freeschoolmeals.co.uk. Further details regarding how eCodes can be redeemed are available in the parent/carer’s FAQ document.
Thank you for your patience and understanding whilst the school has tried to resolve this situation and I hope you and your family are safe and well.
Message from Mr Jackson: Free School Meals – 30th March
Further to my emails last week (they are on our website if you are struggling to locate them) I write with further information about this week’s provision for students who are eligible for a free school meal. The following information was provided by Lancashire County Council this morning and we have been asked to share it with our families:
‘On Monday 30 March families eligible for free schools meals can pick-up a pack for each child between 12 noon and 2pm at the pick-up point for their network.
The venues will also open on Tuesday 31st March from 11am – 2pm if families have not been able to collect on Monday.
Following some questions from headteachers over the weekend, please be advised
• most pick-up points will try to stay open until 3pm on Monday to reduce congestion.
• a dedicated team of staff will be on hand to process things very quickly (with social distancing practices in place)
• pick-ups can be staggered until Tuesday, when the locations will be open from 11am–2pm
We are extremely grateful to headteachers for working with us to get 25,000 free school meals to families without delay, ahead of the roll-out of the national voucher scheme. We are also indebted to the staff from the library service and children, family and well-being service who have masterminded this operation with colleagues from Lancashire catering’.
The pick-up point for our families is Haslingden Library.
We are unaware of the details of the voucher scheme but will let you know as soon as further information is provided.
Message from Mr Jackson: Free School Meals – 27th March
Further to my letter yesterday, I would just like to update you, as promised, on the further information I have received about how the provision of free school meals will be maintained during this period of school closure.
The daily update from the Director of Education and Skills at Lancashire County Council included further information on this matter. I have included this below:
COVID19 DAILY BULLETIN – 26th March 2020
Update from the Director of Education and Skills
Free School Meals – latest position
The DfE is looking to establish a national voucher scheme for pupils eligible for free school meals in the near future. In the meantime, Lancashire County Council is arranging a further delivery of meals for all eligible families and agreeing a way of distributing these through community hubs rather than individual schools. We will update you as soon as possible on the arrangements.
I am sure that this message creates as many questions as it answers, but I just wanted to provide you with the same information that I have. I will update you as soon as any more information is received.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Message from Mr Jackson: Free School Meals – 26th March
I would like to apologise for the confusion around continuing the provision for students entitled to a free school meal. The situation, like many aspects of life at the moment, is one that occurred very suddenly and is changing rapidly.
The government stated that some provision should be made for eligible students, but didn’t say who would be responsible for arranging this, or how. Given that we have 132 students who are currently in receipt of a free meal in school, this presents a significant logistical challenge and was part of our whole-school planning last week. On Monday morning, with no indication that they were going to arrive, 61 boxes of food were delivered before school had opened, with no indication what they contained, who they were intended for or how they should be distributed. Given that staff were in school, emergency planning for the days and weeks ahead, this presented an even greater challenge. We contacted a number of parents we felt would benefit from these boxes and members of staff loaded them into their cars and delivered them door to door. As some of the contents of the boxes required refrigeration, we contacted a wide range of parents in a short space of time to ensure they were delivered and didn’t go to waste.
An email was sent out to a number of parents whose child is not currently eligible to a free school meal, asking would they want to receive food in subsequent weeks, and this was an error. I do apologise for this but hope parents recognise that this was with the very best of intentions.
Having spent several hours this week trying to find out what was happening about this provision going forward, I eventually got some clarity from Lancashire County Council, who have also been working extremely hard to manage their offer of support to the 500 or so schools they have responsibility for. Whilst there is still no definitive answer, I am led to believe they are coordinating the arrangements for ensuring there is some continued provision for students currently entitled to a free school meal, in all of their schools, including Haslingden High School.
As soon as those arrangements are made clear I will contact eligible parents to let them know. I apologise to parents where an offer was made, and where Lancashire County Council cannot extend the provision to anyone who is not entitled to a free school meal. If your child is not eligible for a free school meal but are struggling due to the current circumstances, the school will contact RAFT (Rossendale based foodbank service) on your behalf. We know that the service is extremely busy but are keen to help however they can.
I know this a hugely difficult time for everyone, but I would urge you to continue to follow all the advice being given by Public Health England and the government.