School Refuses to Give Hot Meals to Students with Debt

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. outstanding / aʊtˈstændɪŋ / (adj) – not yet settled or paid

    The father went to his child’s school to pay the outstanding tuition debt.

  2. break the news / breɪk ðə nuːz / (idiom) – to inform someone about something

    The government broke the news about the massive budget cut on education.

  3. pay off / peɪ ɑːf / (phrasal) – to return money that was borrowed

    Some parents work two jobs to pay off their children’s tuition.

  4. subsidize / ˈsʌbsəˌdaɪz / (v) – to give money to help someone pay for something

    The school subsidizes the tuition of students from low-income families.

  5. arrears / əˈriɚz / (n) – debt that continues to be unpaid

    Daniel promises to pay his arrears to the school at the end of the month.


Read the text below.

A school in England announced that it would stop providing lunch meals to students whose families have an outstanding debt.

Devonshire [DEVuh n-sheer] Park Primary in Merseyside, England, broke the news of the policy in a letter to parents. The letter explained that students cannot get hot meals if their parents have a debt of £10 or higher.

If parents are unable to settle their debt, they are advised to provide packed lunch for their children while paying off their outstanding balance. Devonshire Park, however, emphasized that it would not let students starve if they did not have packed lunch and would provide students toast or bread rolls.

In Devonshire Park, parents pay for their children’s school lunch in advance. The cost is partially subsidized by the school. Unfortunately, the school noted that some parents failed to pay and collectively incurred a debt of £1,000 last year. To stop parents from accumulating higher arrears, the school decided to implement the policy.

Currently, UK schools are under a lot of pressure because of education budget cuts. As such, a teacher unaffiliated with the school expressed support for the policy. The teacher explained that the parents’ debt could have been used to fund teaching assistants and other educational resources.

Be that as it may, one parent still disagreed with the policy, pointing out that some families are struggling financially. In defense, the school said that it was aware of the financial struggles of some parents. In fact, parents are encouraged to talk to the school management if they have concerns so that the school can provide assistance.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the school’s decision to stop providing lunch meals to students with debt is fair? Why or why not?
• What are other ways for the school to ensure that parents pay their debts? Explain.

Discussion B

• What do you think can schools do to support children whose families are struggling financially (e.g. free books, scholarships)? Explain.
• In your opinion, should those kinds of support also be available to students who are not struggling financially? Why or why not?