OPINION: New term, new issues

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A new school year begins today presenting a familiar menu of changes and challenge.

An immediate innovation this term is the long-awaited introduction of free school meals for all infant pupils, a move that supporters say will have obvious health benefits and help youngsters learn more effectively.

There are bound to be teething troubles with such a major project - over 18,000 youngsters are eligible in Sheffield alone.

Critics claim it is too expensive a commitment for the country to take on at a time of endless austerity so the reaction of parents may be key if the policy is to have a long term future.

In secondary schools many teachers will still be digesting the GCSE results which emerged less than a fortnight ago.

The news for a number of Sheffield schools was a shock to the system and both pupils and staff will have to make extra efforts this year to get back on track.

Worse still was the realisation that it was secondaries in more disadvantaged schools that were worst affected, compromising many young people’s futures.

Adjusting to new priorities may not be easy and could take time, but it is vital for the city’s economy and wellbeing that they do.