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Free school meals in secondary schools in Wales; a socio ecological examination of policy implementation and the take up of entitlement

Addis, Samia ORCID: 2016. Free school meals in secondary schools in Wales; a socio ecological examination of policy implementation and the take up of entitlement. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Free school meal provision in the UK has a long history, representing an important mechanism to tackle child poverty, address inadequate diets and tackle childhood obesity. However, concern revolves around levels of non-take up, since a significant proportion of those entitled don’t register, or once registered, don’t consume the meal. The take up of entitlement varies by Local Authority, indicating the impact of the local context. Existing research has identified a range of influential factors but by seeking to isolate factors, such an approach overlooks why these factors exist, how they are interrelated and why they affect the people they do. This study uses a collective lifestyles approach to explore the social context of free school meal provision to understand the interaction between policy, context and the individual and the influence of these interactions on uptake of entitlement. Using a case study methodology, four schools within one Local Authority in Wales were examined; data were collected by a review of policy documents, focus groups with pupils and interviews with policy makers, stakeholders, local authority and school staff and parents and pupils. Underpinned by a socio ecological framework, factors at a range of analytical levels were examined. Free school meal policy has been shaped by historical and structural factors, including devolution and this influences implementation at the local level. For pupils, issues associated with the school food environment, food availability, the built environment and the social processes of school dining influence the likelihood of having school meals and for pupils on free school meals, the ability to conform to peer norms is shaped by marginalisation, influencing the uptake of entitlement. Recommendations focus on minimising marginalisation by ensuring confidentiality throughout school processes and ensuring that free school meal pupils can participate in the same school food practices as the wider pupil population.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: Health Care Research Wales - Welsh Government
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 May 2016
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2022 02:55

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