School meal rules should apply to academies - parents

 
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Parents want meals in academies and free schools to be bound by the same nutrition standards as those in local authority schools, a report suggests.

Some 92% of parents polled also said they wanted an independent body to ensure the standards were met.

Academies and free schools in England are not bound by government regulations on school food.

Jamie Oliver, who campaigns for better school meals, urged the government "to do something positive with the data".

The TV chef supports demands for legislation on school meal nutrition to apply to all schools. Currently academies and free schools are expected to comply with the standards on a voluntary basis.

Almost three-quarters of the parents polled (73%) also said they believed no students except sixth-formers should be allowed out at lunchtime with 35% saying they thought that even sixth-formers should have to stay on site for lunch.

Standard concerns

Some 83% of the 12,000 parents who responded to an online poll agreed that schools in areas of deprivation should be given extra money for their catering service.

A quarter of the parents polled said they wanted breakfasts to be provided by schools. More than 8% of secondary school parents admitted their children left home without breakfast.

Despite the enthusiasm for good nutrition, more than half of the parents polled (57%) said they did not know whether their child's school was definitely meeting the standards.

Some 91% of parents said they were very happy with the school meals service they received, with almost three-quarters (72%) saying the quality of the food was key and 87% saying they found school meals good value for money.

The survey was carried out for the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) and the online dinner money company ParentPay.

Clint Wilson, of ParentPay, said school meals staff were "on the front line in tackling public health issues".

He added: "What we need now is for the government to support this agenda with the same conviction as the industry and the same passion as our parents."

Anne Bull, of LACA, said: "While much has been achieved as the result of the hard work of schools and caterers, additional measures to enhance this progress would help children and young people achieve their potential both academically and physically."

Judy Hargadon, of Children's Food Trust, said: "What really comes through here is how much parents want the reassurance of knowing that the food their child is being offered at school will be tasty and affordable, but also nutritious - which is why school food standards have such a key part to play...

"It's great to see such support from parents for 'stay on site' policies, which mean that children aren't going out of school at lunchtime, taking away the temptation to go out and buy things like crisps, sweets and sugary drinks for lunch rather than food that will fuel them up well for the afternoon."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Some maintained schools and academies have said that they find the food standards too bureaucratic, difficult to administer and rigid.

"Many academies are actually exceeding the standards and are offering their pupils very high quality, nutritional food. We have asked independent reviewers to consider the best way to help all schools offer good, well-balanced food.

"It is encouraging to see that the majority of parents are satisfied with schools meals and see them as affordable. The quality of school food is absolutely vital. That is why we are looking at the role that food and cooking plays in schools and how this can help to get our children eating well."

Shadow children's minister Sharon Hodgson, said: "This just shows Michael Gove is totally out of touch with the views of parents. They understand that school meals should be healthy and nutritious whatever type of school you attend - but Michael Gove has exempted over a million children from healthy meals.

"Labour would change that, so that the rules developed with Jamie Oliver would apply to every school in England."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 93.

    Re:75
    Excellent idea, but i would go one further and issue one school uniform per year to each child as well as a good meal at lunchtime in exchange for the Child Benefit. Let the children be well fed and well dressed.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 92.

    Its the parents job to feed their children not the state.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 91.

    89.Raymond Hopkins said (re getting kids to eat breakfast) "A genuine problem. 'Twas ever thus. Hard to see how to get over that one."

    It's normally not a problem if you start as you mean to go on - from birth! Teach by example, eat proper meals yourself, including breakfast, & the kids will (mostly) follow. If parents fail to get kids to eat well they're often just not being good role models.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 90.

    Dumb it down in other words. In our local comprehensive you can see children escaping in droves to the local fast food joints. Says so much about nutritional standards in schools.Please get PARENTS to take resposibility for feeding their offspring with good food. And stop this government building over green sites. We really start to need to grow healthy food in the UK and get children to eat it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 89.

    83. Avalon
    1 MINUTE AGO
    @53.Raymond Hopkins, I agree with a lot of the points you make, but you cannot force a child to eat breakfast, whether at home or at school, when they get to school they can claim to have eaten, and tell parents they will eat at school.
    __
    A genuine problem. 'Twas ever thus. Hard to see how to get over that one.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 88.

    This country has become the worst combination of extreme nanny state, feminist, do-gooder, nosey, big-brother combined with arrogant, self absorbed, greedy selfish capitalism of the worst kind.

    Result . . Lot's of self-serving busy body jobsworths, who only want to find themselves a job and stick their nose in.

    Obesity is directly attributable the availability of supermarkets and fast food.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    @78
    That's exactly what I did from 1990 to 1995, as did maybe 75% of the school. They still had chips, but they were awful cheap/nasty/soggy things, it was supposed to be a drive toward healthy food, but the food just became disgusting. I think things have moved on a bit since then.......

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 86.

    75.McGill said "We hear the word “Investment” a lot from this government.
    So how about investing in our children."

    Quite. I'd phase out child benefit for any more than two children for anyone anyway. The saving could be 'reinvested' in e.g.school meals and youth services.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 85.

    75. McGill
    3 MINUTES AGO
    We hear the word “Investment” a lot from this government.

    So how about investing in our children, Stop child benefit from school age onwards and give every child in the country a healthy, nutritious, freshly prepared, free meal at lunchtime.
    __
    Much as Finland does, except child benefit is still paid in full - to all.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 84.

    But if academies have to follow rules they'll be just like normal schools. Next you'll be saying they have to employ teachers with actual qualifications. Nonsense.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 83.

    @53.Raymond Hopkins, I agree with a lot of the points you make, but you cannot force a child to eat breakfast, whether at home or at school, when they get to school they can claim to have eaten, and tell parents they will eat at school.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 82.

    There is no evidence here of any actual survey into the quality of meals - just a lot of opinion and the fact that academies and free schools are not bound by the same legal regulations as local authority schools.

    How many schools are not serving nutritious dinners? How many are just doling out gruel to already breakfast-less waifs and strays? Which schools? Where are they?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 81.

    Did the 'parents' who completed the poll have chidren currently in academies/free schools? Having poll results from adults who have children in loal authority schools or dont have children in schools (such as Jamie Oliver himself) will discredit the poll. Independent schools should be 'independent' in reality and not by name and hould have the right to choose their meal standard with the parents

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 80.

    When I was teaching, we kept the pupils in at lunchtime because the local community and parents wanted that. However, in order to do it, we had to spend a huge amount of money building an iron railing fence around the whole school site. There were not enough teachers to ring the whole school site for the whole of lunchtime, to ensure the pupils stayed in. It wasn't laziness, just not possible.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 79.

    Actually, there seems to be another recurring theme in modern political patter: the idea that you can only allow amazing headteachers to excel in their field by removing the regulation that grants people recourse if they fail. Can anyone talk me through the logic of that one, because I really don't see it at all.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 78.

    6.Megan
    All very well but children get past that or we did. I just skipped 4/5 of the lunches. One day a week was usually chips and beans with something.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    The problem is the state of British food in general – which schools have a chance to address..

    For more, see http://thevoluptuousmanifesto.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/traffic-light-chaos-as-everyone-ducks.html

    Plus a report of a recent forum on the new school dinners review: http://thevoluptuousmanifesto.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/putting-school-dinner-on-menu.html

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 76.

    56. Megan
    My daughter frequently comments that school food is bland and boring, and that it requires considerable organisation to obtain and eat it in the time allowed. It was far better when children got a set 2-course 'school dinner' rather than messing around with a cash cafeteria system
    __
    So it was, Megan, and so it could be again. It only needs the will, and possibly understanding.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 75.

    We hear the word “Investment” a lot from this government.

    So how about investing in our children, Stop child benefit from school age onwards and give every child in the country a healthy, nutritious, freshly prepared, free meal at lunchtime.

    This is one instance where there should be such a thing as a “Free Lunch”

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 74.

    Canapes anyone?

 

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