Trinity Catholic College responds to lunch-debt criticism

By Joanna MorrisBBC News
SolStock School lunchSolStock
Trinity Catholic College said it would withhold food from children

Middlesbrough's Trinity Catholic College says tailored payment plans have been put in place for families struggling to afford school lunches.

The school was criticised after sending a letter to parents outlining plans to withhold lunch and bus travel from pupils whose families were in arrears.

A spokesman for the school has responded by saying no child has been refused a school meal or seat on a bus.

He invited families facing financial difficulties to contact the school.

Last week, the BBC reported on the school's new procedure regarding debt management.

The letter sent to parents said children would not be able to have school lunches or use school buses if the family's accounts were £20 or more in arrears.

The move was criticised by parents, and the North East Child Poverty Commission urged other schools and colleges not to follow suit despite facing "growing numbers of parents and carers getting into debt for what are essential school-related costs".

Google Aerial view of Trinity Catholic CollegeGoogle
Trinity Catholic College, in Middlesbrough, was criticised over debt management plans

A spokesman for Trinity said further letters have been sent to parents who have fallen behind on payments, asking them to pay the outstanding balance.

He said: "As a result of these letters, we have been able to put tailored payment plans in place for families facing financial challenges.

"Trinity is a compassionate and inclusive community that works hard to support our families in every way, including running our own food bank and a pre-loved uniform shop.

"We also supply free items of uniform to any families who are struggling."

'Prudent use of budget'

The spokesman added: "While we will always help families who are facing challenges, we also have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the public funds made available to us are used in the right way.

"We already provide a significant subsidy... to ensure prices are kept as low as possible for our families.

"Thanks to prudent use of our budget, we've been able to invest significantly in the fabric of our building and the learning environment, as well as recruiting excellent additional teaching staff."

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