School dinners are provided by Bolton Environmental Services who invoice the school for all meals provided. Charges are passed on to parents, who are expected to pay for meals in advance.
Where parents fail to pay for meals, the school is obliged under its agreement with Environmental Services to make up the shortfall. This means that money given for the education of pupils at the school is diverted to pay for meals for children whose parents are in debt to the school.
Diverting education money for the purpose of serving debts is something that the school needs to avoid at all costs. The school therefore has adopted the following practice:
- Dinner money must be paid in advance by Friday of the preceding week
- School office staff will send reminders to parents who fail to send money by Friday.
- Debtors will be send a written note and/or text message with details of the amount required by the end of the week in order to pay the debt and pay for the next week’s meals in advance.
- If no payments are made for a second week, office staff will send a letter and/or text to inform parents that their child must bring a packed lunch until the debt has been paid. Meals may resume on payment of the debt plus an advance payment for the next week.
- If children who normally have a packed lunch forget to bring one, office staff will contact parents to resolve the situation. This may result in the provision of a school dinner which parents will be expected to pay as soon as possible.
- Where parents have a long history of non-payment or late payments, the school may withdraw school meals altogether. This will only be done after consultation with the Headteacher, who will manage the process. If this should be the case, parents will be given a warning notice in writing. If the situation persists after the warning, parents will be informed in writing by the Headteacher that dinners have been withdrawn permanently. The school, however, will continue to pursue any outstanding debts.
- Where withdrawal of provision of school meals has been confirmed to parents in writing, the school will not be obliged to provide a school meal if packed lunches are not sent into school.
- At all stages in this process, parents will be encouraged to contact Bolton MBC to see if the family is eligible to apply for free school meals.