School meal rules should apply to academies - parents

 
Healthy school lunch

Related Stories

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."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 150.

    Why is there this assumption that parent = layabout who doesn't care about their child and expects the state to do its job? Some parents may be, but they are in the minority. Most parents are capable of feeding their children a healthy balanced diet. All schools have a moral obligation for the child's welfare not just education - if meals are provided, they should be nutrionally balanced.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 143.

    My sons school became an academy a couple of years ago, at which point they changed the caterers - and the quality of the food on offer is superior from all perspectives (school, pupils, parents). I seriously doubt that the increase in academies is likely to reduce food quality - more the reverse. The online payment system (in place for years) lets you check what your kids are buying.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 142.

    Why is it that this country is continually going backwards instead of forwards! It seems the more advisers, nutritionists, governments that interfere the more things go into decline. There's always someone out there making money out of it. Stick to basics.

  • 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
    +7

    Comment number 73.

    My Nephew (age in single figures) eats just about anything you put in front of him, he even loves a good home made curry with lots of chunky veg in it!!
    This is mostly down to parental guidance, but would NOT have been possible without the backing of his school..... Kids will eat what their friends eat, if schools let kids eat rubbish, then healthy eating at home will soon go out of the window.

 

Comments 5 of 9

 

More Education & Family stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.