The Green Party has welcomed a move by Surrey County Council to introduce free meals for students from the poorest backgrounds.

Up to 400 students who decide not to stay on at school to take A-levels will continue to receive free lunches while studying at college instead.

Currently those who choose to go to college instead of remaining at sixth form miss out.

A recent study, conducted by School Food Trust, looked at the effects of extending free meals to all in two pilot areas of England.

The results after two years suggested primary pupils had advanced by two months on average as a result.

Philip Wilson, spokesman for the Green Party, said: “As the recent report by the School Food Trust shows, pupils perform better on a full stomach and it shows in their academic achievements.

“This scheme will help those not in employment, education and training to stay at or go to college.”