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Previously this was limited to children of parents on benefits or earning less than 16,190 a year, and the change is expected to boost numbers eating free meals from about 9,500 to an expected 22,215.

Schools across the county have had to be kitted out with new kitchen equipment and new cooking facilities.

He said pilot studies found “children were less likely to eat crisps and unhealthy packed lunches during the school day, and more likely to eat healthy food instead”.

He said: “Most importantly, there was a positive impact on children’s levels of literacy and numeracy.”

The Government gave Oxfordshire County Council 1.47m to help, yet cash strapped council leaders have warned it faces a 300,000 to 500,000 shortfall.

Last month headteacher Lynn Knapp, from Windmill Primary School, Headington, said the 50,000 it received for its kitchen “could be better spent”.

She said: “I don’t think all of our children need to have a free school meal. It’s a huge amount of money that could be spent on things they really need.”

County council cabinet member for children, education and families Melinda Tilley said: “I think it was a stupid idea in the first place. I am so fed up with it.

“I think it is barking mad. We are feeding perfectly healthy children for free and if we could have spent it on disadvantaged children then it could have gone a lot further.”

The Conservative councillor said: “It has cost a fortune because some of the schools didn’t have kitchens,
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and some did but were inadequate.

“And because they have to eat in stages, it is going to disrupt the school day.”

Hard pressed families would still be funding the programme through taxation, she said.

Another major issue is the need for extra classes because of a surge in Oxfordshire’s population, a major issue for primary schools in particular.

This year Cutteslowe Primary School, Wolvercote Primary School and St Gregory the Great Catholic School are among schools that will take extra pupils.

Mrs Tilley said: “It is bringing us a lot of problems. We have a lot more places to find and it’s causing us a lot of problems because the Government has cut back on the money.”

Birth rate figures were analysed by council officers but the influx of people into the county made planning a “headache”, she said.

These included people born abroad. The 2011 census showed Oxford’s foreign born population rose by 67 per cent in the last decade, from 25,940 in 2001 to 43,239 in 2011.

Mrs Tilley said: “We can’t say ‘sorry son, you can’t go to school’. We have to find them a place.”

Secondary schools have enough places but the council is predicting a 12 per cent rise for new starters from 2018/19 as the increase in primary school places works its way through the system.

This means there will be 40,000 children at school that year compared to 35,910 this year.

Mrs Tilley said: “Parents should have choices, that is the most important thing.

“And the most important thing is to make all schools worthy of their choice. We need to have schools working with other schools, and we have to encourage them to do that.

“And that is what my challenge is that every single child in Oxfordshire gets a good start.”

The stay at home mum said: “I have said since the beginning that I wanted them to go separately and not together so that they can develop their own personalities.

“We want them to be their own people. So Megan will go in the morning and then I will collect her and they will both have lunch together, and then Ruby will go in the afternoon.

“It will also give me a chance to spend some one on one time with each of them.

“We can go swimming,
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which I can’t do when there are two of them. It is like a military operation getting everyone ready for school.

“The twins are very good and try to get themselves dressed and the others will help them if they are struggling. They are very good kids.