ALL Reception class children in Wales will be eligible for free school meals from September, it has been announced.

As part of its co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Government has promised to provide free meals for every primary school pupil in Wales by 2024.

And today - Monday, June 20 - it is being announced this will begin from the start of the new academic year in September, when councils across Wales will be given funding to ensure all Reception class pupils get free meals.

It is planned for free meals to be available to children in years 1 and 2 by April 2023, with councils and schools able to bring this in sooner if they are able to.

Making the announcement, education and Welsh language minister Jeremy Miles said: “No child should ever be at school hungry. Given the pressure so many families are under with the increases in the cost-of-living we are absolutely committed to taking practical measures to support our children and young people.

“Our new programme of universal free school meals for primary children is one of the key ways we are looking to help families. Younger children are more likely to be living in relative income poverty, so we are starting with a decent free school meal for children in Reception from September, with most children in Year 1 and Year 2 also getting free school meals by next April.

“I want to thank our local authorities and schools for working with us so constructively over the past few months to help make this a reality.”

The Welsh Government has ring-fenced £225 million to introducing the scheme over the next three years.

All youngsters already eligible for free school meals, regardless of their year group, will not be affected.

Plaid Cymru’s Siân Gwenllian, who is one of two designated members responsible for agreeing issues with Welsh Government ministers as part of the co-operation agreement, said the move would “make a real difference now and in the future”.

“This ambitious undertaking will be life-changing for many and a significant help to families across the country – showing how by working together we’re delivering for Wales and making a real difference on the ground,” she said.