A POTENTIAL move to axe free hot lunches in primary schools has divided opinion among headteachers in Worcestershire.

Theresa May wants to scrap universal free hot meals for all children aged up to seven, and instead offer free breakfasts in a surprise Conservative manifesto pledge.

The Prime Minister's stance, which will save £650 million, has come under fire from the likes of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and the National Association of Head Teachers.

But in Worcester some heads backed the move today, saying far too many children are turning up having not had breakfast.

Some schools operating without kitchens also suggested the current offer was causing logistical problems, with the hot lunches having to be transported in by outside providers.

Gareth Morgan, headteacher of Cranham Primary School in Tetbury Drive, said: "Our take-up of free meals is in the high-90s, but whether it's benefitted the pupils, I don't know.

"We already run a breakfast club which up to 65 children a day attend, it was started for working parents so they could drop pupils off from 7.30am but now we get pupils come in who don't need to be there, they just want to use it.

"There's cheese on toast, beans on toast, occasional pancakes, fruit and cereal and it's going really well.

"The children socialise and get 'woken up' for the day - I can see how this policy would make a positive difference to children."

Anne Potter, headteacher of Stanley Road Primary in Worcester, said: "About a third of our pupils take the hot meals, we haven't got a kitchen so they are brought in on hot trays.

"This is a really good idea, having breakfast does make quite a big difference in a pupil's ability to concentrate.

"You sometimes get a child say 'I'm hungry' mid-morning and when you ask, 'have you had breakfast', they say 'no' - it's quite common."

But Bryony Baynes, headteacher at Kempsey Primary School, said: "We have virtually 100 per cent take-up of free hot lunches, it would be a disaster if it went.

"With society as it is today, it isn't set up for children to eat at home - there's a lot of eating in front of the TV, a lot of distractions.

"Parents like the hot lunches, the calibre of the food is good, the children enjoy them.

"I just can't understand why the Government can't offer both - we can offer breakfast and lunch if we had the funding."

Labour has pledged to introduce free school meals for all primary school children as well as the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats today said over 15,000 schoolchildren in Worcestershire would lose free lunches if they were taken away.

Party officials leapt on data from the Department for Education showing how 15,523 county pupils benefited from it last year.

Stephen Kearney, the city's Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, said it would cost parents "£480 a year for every child".

"Margaret Thatcher was known as the milk snatcher, it seems Theresa May will go down as the lunch snatcher," he said.

"She is cynically snatching meals away from thousands of children in Worcestershire.

"The Liberal Democrats will offer a brighter future by extending free school meals to all primary schools."

But the Government says the universal offer of free hot meals for all children up to Year 2 is "not a sensible use of public money".

The Tory manifesto states: "There is now good evidence that school breakfasts are at least as effective in helping children to make progress in school."