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Free school meals for young pupils in the South

Free school meals Credit: ITV

Schools across the region will be rolling out free school meals from today as children head back for the new academic year. New rules - announced by the Government last Autumn mean that all pupils in reception and Years 1 and 2 will receive them. It's aimed at improving concentration in the classroom and promoting healthy lifestyle but many schools say they don't have the space or facilities to cope. And some local authorities say they are struggling to find the money to fund the scheme.

No such thing as a free hot lunch? School children to go without

Hundreds of schools are getting ready for the new rules Credit: ITV Meridian

Primary school children may not get a hot meal when they return back to their studies in September, despite a new law requiring all schools to provide them a free lunch.

The law applied to all children in reception and children in Year 1 and 2 and is being introduced across the country.

But some schools say they do not have the kitchens or dining halls in order to facilitate the new rules and so will have to rely on other schools to provide them meals.

Several schools say they are planning on giving children sandwiches to eat in their classrooms.

In Kent, the Government provided £2.7 million to fund the scheme but councils say this will not be enough to cover the costs. Our reporter Abigail Bracken visited one school in Benenden, south Kent, to find out more.

Do you think primary schools should have to provide free meals to school children? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @itvmeridian.


Bournemouth needs extra 1,800 school places

Bournemouth council are meeting today as part of a discussion into finding nearly 2000 extra school places.

The new places are needed from September 2018 as a continued rise in pupil numbers is expected - due to both an increased birth rate and immigration.

The plan to increase secondary school places will be discussed by Bournemouth councillors to cater for the extra pupils.

Forecasts show that over time the increase in pupil numbers that we have seen at primary age will transfer to secondary and we are already working hard to put in place suitable measures to ensure that there are enough secondary school places in Bournemouth in the future.

We anticipate that around 1,800 extra school places across year groups 7 to 11 will be needed from 2018 and so it is important that we start early, working closely with the secondary academies and their governors to look at possible options to expand as well as seeking appropriate funding."

– Councillor Nicola Greene, Cabinet Member for Education and Children's Services

Crumbling school buildings need urgent work

Four years after a major rebuilding programme was scrapped, schools in the South are still waiting for urgent work to begin.

Nine schools in our region have been accepted onto an alternative rebuild programme after being identified as a high priority. But many remain in a poor condition with no plans drawn up - and no idea when exactly work will begin. They include King Richard's in Portsmouth, Wyvern College in Salisbury and four on the Isle of Wight.

Of those, so far work has only started at The Cedar School in Southampton and Montacute Special School in Poole. The government says work is ahead of schedule and that all schools will be completed by 2017.

Montacute is now finally looking forward to a six million pound purpose-built building - they've been desperate for a new school for as long as 20 years. Their current buildings leak, there are cracks in the walls and pupils who use wheelchairs struggle to negotiate narrow corridors.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to headteacher Jill Owen and the school's Chair of Governors, Pam Henderson about their long wait.

Start date for building work at school "keeps moving on"

Four years since the government scrapped a major programme to rebuild hundreds of schools, and many still have no idea when work will begin. In total, 10 schools across the south which are in poor condition were earmarked for a re-build.

The Government says work is ahead of schedule and that all schools will be completed by 2017.

ITV Meridian spoke to head teacher of Bitterne Park School Susan Trigger.

Prom night celebrations underway in the South

The prom season is at its height with thousands of teenagers enjoying extravagant celebrations to mark the end of their school careers. Some families are running up four figure bills giving their offspring a night to remember.

The Prom business is worth a staggering 80-million pounds in the UK with some spending up to a £1,000 on the dress alone. Our reporter Christine Alsford joined the glitz and the glamour at one major prom event in Hampshire.


Shoeless school helps pupils' concentration

With more and more pressure on our schools to deliver teachers and pupils and forever looking for new ways to help their lessons stick. Well, one school in Sussex has brought in a new measure that it says is improving concentration and calm.

Andy Dickenson reports and speaks to pupils Jake Scriven, Lucy Rowland and Kalli-Marie Wilson Nicklin of Holmbush Primary School, as well as head teacher Rebecca Jackson.

Knives, meat cleavers & an axe seized from schools

Weapons like knives, meat cleavers - even an axe - have been seized in schools across the region over the last three years. Tonight we can exclusively reveal how police have dealt with dozens of offences involving weapons in schools - with children as young as 13 being arrested.

Hundreds of pupils have also been excluded. It comes after a teacher was stabbed to death at a school in Yorkshire.

Sarah Cooper has been to meet Rhyce Pope, who left the Oasis Academy on the Isle of Sheppey, who's been home-schooled for the last nine months, because he was too scared to go back into the classroom.

  1. Sarah Saunders (@SSaundersITV)

Primary places - the situation in the South East

Today marked the first time that every primary school across the UK decided on their intake on the same day.

Although most youngsters ended up exactly where their parents wanted them to go, it meant that thousands in the south east missed out on their top choice. And well over a thousand children did not get any _of the schools they wanted.

As Sarah Saunders reports, the real problem was too few schools and too many children.

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