Menu
Home Page

School Food Plan Removes Mandatory Nutritional Standards for All School Meals?

School Food Plan mandatory nutritional standards for all schools meals? - it is now the responsibility of Headteachers to decide what meal standards they have in their schools....if any

 

 

Synopsis of Leon School Food Plan:

  1. Firstly, it is important to understand the context of this ‘plan’ that really did arise from Michael Gove having his holidays with the ‘plan’ authors and their families. So, it is not a commissioned report, inquiry or investigation for the government, it is the owners of the Leon restaurant chain completing a ‘plan’ following discussions with those active in the delivery of school meals.

 

  1. As the authors’ state ‘is not a traditional ‘report’, or a set of recommendations to the government. It is a plan. It contains a series of actions, each of which is the responsibility of a named person or organisation……. The only person with the power to orchestrate all this is the head teacher. They need support from their governors and leadership team, but if the head isn’t behind changing the food culture in a school, it won’t happen.’

 

  1. A lot was reported that this ‘plan’ was going to ‘ban packed lunches’ Here is all it says on page136 ‘Make sure packed lunches are not a ‘better’ option. Ban sugary drinks, crisps and confectionery, or offer prizes and other incentives for bringing in a healthy lunch. Some schools ban packed lunches outright. If you want to do this, try starting with your newest intake (pupils in reception or year 7). The ban will then apply to all the years that follow them, until it extends to the whole school.

 

  1. The government has agreed to provide funding for specialist organisations to go into 5,000 schools that are struggling with their lunch service, to help them turn things around.

 

  1. The government has agreed to allocate money to help schools in the poorest areas establish breakfast clubs. And it has promised to look at extending free school meal entitlement, to ensure that the children of the so-called ‘working poor’ do not go hungry at lunch.

 

  1. The ‘plan’ also recommends ‘that free school meals should be extended to all primary school children, starting with the most deprived areas. This is the only one of our recommendations that the government has not agreed to yet. We understand that the considerable cost and the need to involve other departments make it a big ask. But we are pleased that the Secretary of State agrees with us in principle and we would urge schools and councils to consider funding universal free school meals themselves.’

 

  1. On page11 the ‘plan’ hopes that ‘Headteachers will investigate the case for extending free school meals ‘

 

  1. Public Health England will promote policies which improve children’s diets in schools and Public Health England has agreed to promote interventions which improve food quality in schools and tackle childhood obesity. (See Chapter Six for detail.) Interestingly, at the last meeting of the All Parliamentary Group on School Meals the Head of PHE was not at all impressed with the idea of a link between diet and learning etc. etc. However, on page 17 the ‘plans authors state that they ‘Conducted detailed research and new quantitative and qualitative analysis on:  Why it matters – links between good nutrition and academic performance and health.

 

  1. Ofsted inspectors to consider behaviour and culture in the dining hall and the way a school promotes healthy lifestyles Ofsted has agreed to amend its guidance for school inspectors. See Chapter Twelve for details.

 

  1.  On page11 it refers to the need to ‘Bring school cooks closer to the rest of the catering sector……We will work with ‘Lunch’ and ‘Hotelympia’ to include school cooks in these high-profile industry events. See Chapter Seven for details. The wish is also declared to ‘Improve the skills of the workforce….A public-private alliance led by LACA will develop a more structured approach to training and qualifications for school caterers. See Chapter Seven for details.

 

  1. Small school taskforce – caterers, kitchen designers and manufacturers to work together to provide good food….We will lead this taskforce, working with Annabel Karmel, CEDA, LACA, Brakes and others. See Chapter Nine for details. P.12

 

  1.  The government should embark upon a phased roll out of free school meals for all primary school children, beginning with the local authorities with the highest percentage of children already eligible for free school meals…..’ For the ‘plan’  ‘This is the only recommendation in this plan that the government has not agreed to implement immediately. We hope that, at the very least, the subject will be debated further across government departments and by people working in the field. We would also strongly encourage councils to follow the lead of Islington, Newham and Blackpool councils and consider funding this themselves. See Chapter Eleven for details..’p.20 / 21

 

  1. Support for the plan comes from Ofsted with this ringing endorsement “As a head teacher I always wanted to make sure that my children ate a good school lunch. Not only does a good quality lunch improve a pupil’s concentration in the afternoon, but the atmosphere in the canteen is critical to encouraging good behaviour. More than that, lunch is the only time of day when the whole school – children and teachers – have a chance to come together. The atmosphere of the canteen sets a tone for the rest of the school and helps to establish the school’s culture. Great schools do all things well. They not only nurture a child’s mind through outstanding teaching; they nurture the whole child through sport, art and food. Only with a combination of all of these things will we enable our children to reach their full potential.” Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Schools p.21

 

  1. Then Michael Gove insists that “You won’t get good grades in schools unless you are happy and fulfilled and unless the whole child is looked after. That means making sure that children are well fed; making sure they get a breakfast which can sustain them through the rigours of the morning; making sure that there is a proper lunch to look forward to; and making sure that as well as having choice, children are eating food that is healthy. The school lunch or dinner – the central meal of the day for many children – needs to be of the highest possible quality.” Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education.

 

  1. Leon conclude ‘Our vision for school food in England Flavourful, fresh food Served by friendly, fulfilled cooks…in financially-sound school kitchens. P.25

 

  1. It is very hard to get a precise national picture, but we estimate that significantly more than half of all schools are currently in that predicament23. Most loss-making school canteens are kept afloat with subsidies, either from the council or from the school’s own budget. This costs the taxpayer £140 million per year24, on top of the £428 million25 that the government already spends on free school meals.

 

 

On Tuesday 16th.July FFT will be represented at the All Party Group on School Meal at which the authors will explain the next step.

 

 

M.Carden July 14th.

 

We are grateful to Benie Lee who adds this DFE viewpoint on the reasoning of the School Food Plan and the likely changes to school meals standards:

 

 

The consultation on food standards is due anytime now ready for completion in May  14 and implemented from Sept 14 . The early overview can be found on pages 143 – 145 of the school food plan but I have attached some excerpts from the plan that you may like to include on your website

 

2. Introduce food-based standards for all schools

The Department for Education will test and introduce a set of revised food based standards (built on a nutritional framework), with the intention of applying them to maintained schools and all new academies and free schools by September 2014. See Chapter Eight for details

 

ACTION:

Introduce food-based standards for all schools test and introduce a set of revised food based standards (built on a nutritional framework) for all schools It is vital to get the standards right. How this will be done is further described in Appendix B.

 

The evaluation of the revised standards will be completed by January 2014. There will then be a twelve-week period of consultation. Once agreement has been reached, the new regulations will be put into legislation. We expect them to come into force for all maintained schools by September 2014, and a requirement to abide by them will be added to the funding contracts of new academies and free schools shortly thereafter.

All academies that were established prior to 2010 already have clauses in their funding agreement that require them to comply with the national standards for school food. All those that are founded after the publication of this plan will have a similar clause written into their contracts. That still leaves a subsection of academies that were founded between these dates, and had no such clause written into their standards. Rather than introduce cumbersome new legislation to introduce a post-dated clause, we are approaching academies to sign up them up voluntarily to the new standards. So far, all the big academies chains that we have spoken to have been willing (in fact eager) to do this. They include: E-ACT, Ormiston Academies Trust, Harris Federation, Oasis Community Learning multi-academy trust, the School Partnership Trust, United Learning Trust, Academies Enterprise Trust, and the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust. We are confident that other academies will follow suit.

 

All standards need to be monitored if they are to be effective, and the DfE has agreed to visit a random sample of schools every year. More extensive action would only be necessary if the percentage of schools complying fell below a set level.

Responsibility: Department for Education

ACTION:

Measure success

Set up and monitor our five measures to test whether the School Food Plan is working

To monitor the impact of the School Food Plan, and ensure that progress is being made, the government has agreed to collect data regularly on:

● Take-up of school meals

● Nutritional quality of the food (number of schools meeting the new standards)

● Proportion of sixteen year olds who can cook a repertoire of savoury dishes

● Morale of the workforce

● Proportion of schools with a quality award (for example the Food for Life Partnership award or the Children’s Food Trust award)

 

The government will take base-line measures in 2013.

Responsibility: Department for Education

 

Appendix B: Approach to revising school food standards

Summary

It is important that the food served in schools provides children with the energy and nutrition they need. School food standards serve as a nutritional safety net – one that is especially important for the most vulnerable children, for whom a school lunch may be the most important meal of the day.

As we have outlined, however, the implementation of the current standards has not been universally successful. We believe that it is possible to create a clearer set of food-based standards, accompanied by practical guidance, that:

 

1. Provides caterers with a framework on which to build interesting, creative and nutritionally-balanced menus.

2. Is less burdensome and operationally cheaper to implement than the current nutrient-based standards.

 

A group reporting into the DfE will draw up a set of these standards (using the early draft below as a starting point) and test them in schools to confirm that they achieve these objectives.

If this testing is successful, the Secretary of State has agreed to introduce the new standards as mandatory to all types of school: maintained schools and all new academy and free schools

 

84 As we set out in Chapter 8, all academies that were established prior to 2010 already have clauses in their funding agreement that require them to comply with the national standards for school food. All those that are founded after the publication of this plan will have a similar clause written into their contracts. That still leaves a subsection of academies that were founded between these dates, and had no such clause written into their standards. Rather than introduce cumbersome new legislation to introduce a post-dated clause, we are working with leading academy chains to sign up to the new food standards voluntarily. So far, all the big academy chains that we have spoken to have been eager to do this. They include: E-ACT, Ormiston Academies Trust, Harris Federation, Oasis Community Learning Multi Academy Trust, The School Partnership Trust, United Learning Trust, Academies Enterprise Trust, and the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust. We are confident that other Academies will follow suit.

 

The approach

 

There will be four stages to revising standards.

1. The DfE will commission work to test the standards. This will include talking to caterers about how they would interpret these standards, translating them into menus, and revising and enhancing them and supporting guidance as necessary.

2. A set of standards, and the accompanying guidance, will be sent to cooks at a variety of schools (academies and maintained schools; schools that cater in-house; through a private caterer, and through the local authority). These cooks will be asked to create menus based on the new standards, as well as commenting on the flexibility, creativity and cost implications of the new standards versus the existing standards. The DfE will commission work to analyse the nutritional content of the menus these cooks produce, and will compare this with the current nutritional framework to assess whether further changes to the standards are needed.

 

3. Assuming this gets positive results, the DfE will redesign the guidance for primary, secondary and special schools – using a similar simple, clearly-written format for each. In addition, the DfE will use the menus developed in stage 2, and those produced by other organisations to create sample menus which meet the new standards and exhibit the creativity and excellence being shown by the best schools.

 

4. The DfE will put the new standards out for consultation (the usual period for this being 12 weeks) and, following completion of the consultation, will lay regulations to put the new standards into secondary legislation, replacing the current standards. Subject to the successful passage of this legislation, the DfE will amend its standard contract template so that all future academies and free schools will be required to comply with the new standards.

 

Governance

The revision of school food standards will be overseen by a group of nutrition experts, including those who have been involved in the School Food Plan expert panel, as well as a head teacher and a caterer. It will be chaired by Henry Dimbleby.

Timing

The goal is to complete the whole process by May 2014 which, subject to parliamentary approval, would mean that the new regulations will apply to schools from the start of the school year beginning in September 2014.

Early Draft of Food Based Standards

This is a very early draft of the new standards (drafted by Dr Susan Jebb of the MRC with input from our panel). They are intended to give an early sense of the direction of travel. They will be refined and tested extensively. They will then be put out for consultation. We would of course welcome any input prior to that.

General Principles:

 

For children, eating in school should be a pleasurable experience, a time spent sharing good food with peers and teachers. It is the one time in the day when a school comes together in an informal, relaxed environment. It helps set the tone of a school and it helps provide a model for the relationship with food that children will carry outside school.

These standards are intended to ensure that children get the nutrition they need across the whole school day. Compulsory, rather than voluntary, standards are proven to increase take up of fruit and vegetables and foods containing other essential nutrients, such as iron and calcium, while restricting the consumption of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

As a general principle, it is important to provide a wide range of foods. Variety is key – whether it is different fruits and vegetables, grains or types of meat, fish or pulses for example.

 

Chefs, cooks and caterers should also be aware that these standards relate to the nutritional nature of the food served. It is just as important to make the food look good and taste good; to talk to children about what is on offer and recommend dishes; to reduce queuing; and to serve the food in a pleasant environment where they can eat with their friends.

Wherever possible, foods should be prepared in the school’s own kitchen from fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

 

 

Bernadette Lee I Healthy Eating Officer

Liverpool City Council I Toxteth Annexe I Aigburth Road I Liverpool I L17 7BN

 

See also -

'The School Independent Food Plan' see also - www.schoolfoodplan.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top