GIVING free school meals to all children would be a waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere, the Labour Party has been warned.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn announced on Thursday that if the party wins the next election it will give all primary school pupils free school meals.

This would be funded by introducing a VAT tax on private schools.

But teachers and politicians in Oxfordshire said schools needed the money for more important aspects of school life.

Oxfordshire County Council education scrutiny committee deputy chairman and Labour councillor Gill Sanders said there were problems with the proposals.

Stressing that she was speaking in a personal capacity she said: "Giving free school meals to children who are deserving of a free school meal is effective and vital and something we should continue to do.

"But I do have concerns that we will be providing meals for parents who can well afford to pay.

"I would like any extra money to be spent to allow schools to pay for staff so that they can continue to offer certain subjects."

The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government introduced free school meals for all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Free meals are provided for children in other years if their parents are given benefits such as jobseeker's allowance or earn less than £16,190 a year.

Lynn Knapp, headteacher of Windmill Primary School in Headington, said: "If money were no object this policy would be good but every penny counts at the moment.

"The money could be put into other areas of school. Not every child needs a free school meal."

When free meals for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children were introduced some schools claimed they had lost out on pupil premium funding.

This money is given to schools based on how many disadvantaged pupils they had, but some headteachers said parents were not declaring their income anymore as they did not need to in order to get free meals.

This meant their children were not classed as disadvantaged and pupil premium money was not awarded.

Mrs Knapp said: "If this were rolled out to all pupils it could become more of an issue and cost us money."

In the run-up to the 2015 General Election the Lib Dems proposed offering all primary school pupils free meals.

Lib Dem councillor and education scrutiny committee member Professor John Howson accused Labour of stealing the policy.

He said: "We are in favour of it, it would be a relief, particularly for the just about managing.

"But I am not in favour of funding it through VAT on independent school places.

"The Lib Dems would fund it through general taxation."