NICOLA Sturgeon is to announce plans to provide free school breakfasts and lunches to every primary school pupil in the country.

The SNP leader will announce her party’s intention to expand the current provisions, which cover children aged four to seven in primaries 1-3.

She suggests the move, which had previously been suggested by Education Secretary John Swinney in November last year, could save families hundreds of pounds a year.

It comes a day after Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said all pupils should benefit from free meals during the summer holidays through catch-up clubs in a bid to tackle holiday hunger.

Sturgeon is expected to say: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough for everyone – that’s why so much of our focus in government has been to help families get by in tough times.

“All children in primaries 1 to 3 already benefit from access to free school meals, saving families around £400 per child per year.

“But if re-elected, we will go much further. An SNP government will provide free school breakfasts and lunches to every primary school pupil in Scotland, all year round, and for all children in state-funded special schools in Scotland. This will eventually save them an estimated £650 a year per child.

“That will make an enormous difference to families in every corner of the country — but even this will not be the limit of our ambition.”

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There will also be plans to pilot free nutritious school breakfasts in secondary schools, which the party hopes will lead to a universal breakfast provision rolled out for older pupils.

Sturgeon also had praise for Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford who successfully lobbied the UK Government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy in England.

She will add: “We’ll look to the long term by piloting of free nutritious school breakfasts in secondary schools – which will help us to explore the feasibility of universal breakfast provision in secondary schools.

“School meals boost children’s energy, concentration and behaviour, which leads to improvements in academic attainment.

“Our plan gives much-needed support to families right now – but it is also a significant investment in Scotland’s future.

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“It took a high-profile campaign by Marcus Rashford to shame Boris Johnson into doing the right thing.

“For us in Scotland, it is a lesson in why it is far better that key decisions are taken here in Scotland – and not left in the hands of the Tories at Westminster.

“By giving both votes to the SNP in this election, people can elect a government which has a plan to lead Scotland through the pandemic and ensure that every family is supported through the recovery.”

Alysa Remtulla, head of policy and campaigns at Magic Breakfast, welcomed the SNP's pledge. The organisation had recommended providing breakfasts to all pupils in Scotland's primary schools.

Remtulla said: “We know classroom hunger affects children of all ages, so we also warmly welcome the SNP’s commitment to pilot free school breakfasts in state-funded secondary schools.

"These commitments are a momentous step towards tackling child hunger and come at a critical time, as the pandemic has led to rising food insecurity and a widening educational attainment gap in Scotland.

"By ensuring more children start the day with a full stomach, ready to learn, the SNP are boldly paving the way toward a country where classroom hunger is a thing of the past – a vision Magic Breakfast has been working toward for 20 years.”