Headteacher says pupils 'more than a penny in debt' won't be fed school meals 7 months ago

Headteacher says pupils 'more than a penny in debt' won't be fed school meals

A letter said the school cook has been told not give food to children if 'their debt has not been cleared'

A headteacher at a school in Wales has told parents that pupils whose accounts are any more than a penny in debt will not be fed.

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Parents of children at Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in Penygroes, Gwynedd, received a letter from the school's strategic head, Neil Foden, telling them about the policy.

It made clear that the school cook had been told to not give food to any child ""if their debt has not been cleared, or, in the future, to children whose accounts do not have enough money to pay for lunch".

Parents now have until November 19 to clear any debts in their children's accounts. It is because there was a deficit in the school meals budget at the end of the last half term, with a handful of pupils apparently running up debts "totalling more than £1,800."

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The email sent to parents by the school's strategic headteacher, warning them of the policy.

Pupils with debts over £10 will be "transferred to the authority and parents will be invoiced by the council."

Foden concluded the letter by apologising for the strict measure but said that the "scale of the default means that something clearly has to be done".

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The email has been shared on social media and attracted criticism from parents.

One parent 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."

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Another 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!"

A third added: "Any head teacher who would deprive children of school meals for being a single penny in debt should not be a school teacher. In fact, they should not be allowed anywhere near children."

Gwynedd Council has told parents that anyone having issues paying should contact the school and that some may be entitled to free school meals.

In a statement, the council said: "In terms of payment of school meals, an online system has been introduced on which parents should ensure that sufficient funds are in place to pay for their child’s school meals.

"The payment system offers some flexibility for parents who may for whatever reason not be able to make payment for a short period of time. Reminder messages are sent as required to ensure that no significant debts are incurred.

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