ALL pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 will be eligible for free school lunches from the start of the autumn term.

The Government says its new policy could save parents of the more than 7,000 eligible youngsters in Brighton and Hove up to £2,807,600.

Free school meals are means-tested for all children from year 3 onwards, but will now be available to all children aged four to seven.

A Government spokesman said children will be getting a “healthy, nutritious lunch” adding this helped improve concentration and learning.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leading the initiative, said he hoped to create a “level playing field”, for children.

He said: “Pupils at the pilot schools who were all given free meals were found to be up to two months ahead of their peers elsewhere. This is one of the most progressive changes to our school system.”

The Government says the changes will also help reduce childhood obesity, adding that 20% of children are ‘obese’ by the time they leave primary school.