School meals for financially-pressured families have been secured over Christmas, a county council member has said.

The education department at Cumbria County Council worked hard to get pupils school meals over the last half-term and are set to get the same this Christmas in a move which will be a relief for many families.

Sue Sanderson, county council cabinet member for schools and learning, said: “In terms of free school meals the education team has worked hard and managed to sort it for over the half-term break.

“Now we have managed to get it sorted for over Christmas as well which is great news.

“There are now so many families that rely on foodbanks now due to the pandemic.

“Everyone is working flat-out, and people will still have to keep going over the Christmas break making sure everything is going smoothly.”

This comes after last week it was announced that young people will be given a fair shot at grades despite missing much of term-time due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has pledged.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson last week revealed plans to support students during exam season.

Youngsters will be made aware of the topics to be covered before they sit their exams and in the case of a pupil missing their exams due to illness or self-isolation they will be given a teacher-assessed grade.

Marking is set to be more generous to make up for hours lost with teachers.

The Mail: PLEASED: Councillor Sue Sanderson PLEASED: Councillor Sue Sanderson

Cllr Sanderson welcomed the measures. She said: “Anything that makes it fairer will be gratefully received.

"I think there’s a real concern that children and young people are being made to take exams, the gaps in their learning are quite concerning.

“They’re looking at it and they are trying to adapt.

“People are told to isolate, sometimes they come back in and it happens again.”

She added that home learning is not an adequate substitute for being at school.

“If they’re working at home, that’s better in some homes than others," she said. "Particularly with space and equipment, there’s a lot of inequality."

More Cumbrian pupils received top A-level results following changes to this summer’s grading system, but the area still fell further behind other parts of England.

Discrepancies in exam performance have been called “the new frontier of inequality” by the Sutton Trust educational charity after regional gaps seen in calculated grades suggested that pupils may have been disadvantaged by their postcodes.