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School Food Plan launched

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by DfE, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. DfE


    The School Food Plan published today includes a practical checklist for headteachers, listing the most important things you or your team can do to that can make a big difference to take-up and food culture in schools. The checklist is based on the examples of what is working well that the reviewers have seen during their trips to over 60 schools in the country.


  2. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Labour did something very similar and Gove ditched it, preferring instead to waste a cartload of taxpayers' money on this replication.

    As he's offering no more cash to enable schools massively to subsidise meals provision (and they'd need to put in a HUGE amount of cash every year), it's NEVER going to happen, this plan of yours.

    So much for Tory governments being against the "nanny state", eh?
  3. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    Have you any idea of the row I faced when I just reminded my parents that chocolate bars were not allowed in lunch boxes!

    This is one more example of the government, of whichever colour, identifying a problem and piling more work on to schools.

    When is a politician going to have the courage to stand up and point out that the cause of these problems lies, by and large, with the parents unvolved?

    I'm fully aware that more voters are parents than teachers, but I'm fed up with being asked to solve society's ills because no-one wants to be honest.
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    You're absolutely right. As I said earlier, moreover, on Opinion:

    I've been thinking about this all day and have come to the conclusion that Gove has fallen for that "There has to be a magic answer which will make all the badly brought up and/or poorest children get results as good as the best brought up/richest children..." thing.

    You know the one - we've had drinking water, brain gym, etc etc.

    Here's the thing, DfE person and your overlord, El Gove: there is no magic answer. You could feed a healthy, balanced breakfast and lunch every schoolday to the underachievers and do you know what? It wouldn't make them achieve any more than they do now, because the damage has already been done in their first few years of life.
  5. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Wow. Where to start Mr DfE man....

    Jamie Oliver (what's his opinion on his involvement now?). It didn't change my schools meals one iota. Things just carried on. The canteen was farmed out to a private company and hey, the quality of ingrediants went down, the salad bar closed and we got a limitged selection of prepackaged salads with inferior ingredients. I even STOPPED having the school food and brought int HEALTHEIR packed lunches.

    If you want to get more kids eating school means subsidise them. The £140 million you quote in that execrable video is less than three times the transfer fee for Fernando Torres and lest than five times that for Andy Carroll, and yet it renders feeding our nations's children properly "unviable"?

    And I note all you are doing is "supporting" head teachers. So it's carry on as you were basically.

    You like to mention Jamie, so here you go:

    Speaking at a press conference for international journalists covering the cultural side of London during the Olympics, Oliver told Square Meal editor Ben McCormack: ‘The government has relaxed the rules around the food served in academies, which in my mind is unforgiveable,’ adding, ‘I know we’re in a recession, but this was a cash-neutral decision.'

    The campaigning chef, whose 2005 programme Jamie’s School Dinners brought the food served in state schools to national attention, was speaking at the London Media Centre HQ in Parliament Square in front of more than 100 journalists from all over the world.

    His comments were made in relation to the government’s decision to cut the £80m funding previously secured for school meals, as well as its refusal to ensure that academies operate according to the nutritional standards

    It will not break the nation to feed our children properly. Get in some of that unpaid tax for starters. Fund it, buy in decent ingredients, staff it properly and in the long run we will all see the benefits and the cost to the NHS will reduce. This plan is just modern politics - all image and no substance, tinkering at the margins instead of doing something.

    And oh yeah, don't cut £80 million in funding for school meals and then tell us we need more school meals, and don't go and waste money on plans like this and blundering around the country visiting 60 or so schools to tell us what we know already.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    In my school - sorry, in the school formerly known as mine - there was not physically room to cook, serve, consume dinners for all the pupils. I am sure that there are other schools with the same problem.

    In my school life - sorry, in the school life formerly mine - curriculum issues, pastoral issues (in their widest sense), building issues, welfare of staff and pupils, left precious time in my normal working day of 7.15 - 19.15 on school premises to supervise diet as well.

    I did my best, mind you. When asked to come up with typical sayings for a Remembrance Book when I left, pupils quoted, among others: Would your mother approve of the meal you have chosen? , Ketchup is not a vegetable, and Chips are not a meal.

    Are schools (i.e. Headteachers) now going to have to cover for all the failings of society and of individual families or parents? Are we to be blamed for waistlines? Shall we be responsible for urban taggers? Shall we be in the dock now with thieves and murderers, for not having prevented their criminal tendencies?

    Headteachers cannot bear the responsibility for everything that goes wrong, Headteachers cannot be told that they must prevent all anti-social behaviour, Headteachers cannot save people from themselves.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at one of the TES Careers Advice Service seminars or individual consultations
  7. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Yes, to all of those questions. I used that line of thinking when my HT a few years ago, quoting some Ofsted numbskull, told us that we were responsible for the pupils' behaviour. I suggested that it all meant that all the wrongdoing and evil in the world would disappear overnight if we could just get the teaching right, that we could empty the country's prisons, dismantle the justice service and make the police redundant because we would be in paradise. When he scoffed, I asked, "If I'm responsible for a student's behaviour, who's responsible for my behaviour?", to which there was no answer.

    Just like Gove, that HT hadn't a clue and tried to hide his cluelessness behind a smokescreen of utterly pretentious drivel, most of which he made up as he went along. The authors of the advice are no different: "Head teachers are the only people who can truly lead the revolution in school food." It really does beggar belief.

  8. Could have been me, Theo, though my most commonly used one is "This is not McDonald's, use your knife and fork!"

    To DfE, as has been fully covered above, this whole campaign is an ill-conceived waste of money and headteachers' precious time. To present it to us in such a patronising way beggars belief. What was the last line? Something about winning the World Cup?

    In the 50 schools, did you not see Head's supervising lunches, advising on healthy eating? We are doing our bit alongside all the other demands made on our time but, in my case, not even some of the FSM children wanted to eat school lunches, they were so awful.

    Oh, and if it IS such a good idea, why not enforce it in all schools which receive public funding?
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Uh oh. I've just read some more of the guidance:

    for Education will collect this data.

    Can anyone enlighten me as to what the department will do with the data? Maybe the department needs to change its name again.
  10. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    And what sort of thing will tell them it is "working", given that Gove is under the ludicrous illusion that giving children one decent meal a day on the (less than or equal to) 190 days a year they're in school will make them get better exam results?

    The man is quite clearly insane. There is NOT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE to show that this could have any such impact. He and his advisors have - once again - mistaken correlation for causality.

    I see that the mates of Gove who wrote this 'plan' have "urged" heads and councils to pay for all pupils to get a free dinner every day. Do Gove's mates live in some fantasy world in which there are spare billions lying around? Have they no concept of the budgetary constraints heads? Gove should certainly know.

    It's the same old, same old - tell 'em what to do and then blame 'em when they don't do it because they can't.

    Seriously - he is INSANE.

    PS Dfe people - there is not a SHRED of evidence that giving children a free school meal - even one packed with all that's really good for you - will raise their attainment. NOT A SHRED.
  11. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I've just scanned the whole 'plan' and I can't see any indication of what these "five measures" are meant to be. If they are in any way related to attainment outcomes, however, then we will know for certain that the lunatics have taken over the DfE.

    DfE - you CANNOT suggest linking attainment to school dinners. It's the most ridiculous thing imaginable.
  12. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Mine was: At enormous expense, we have provided knives and forks.

    The very fact that these comments were uttered by me - and by you, and by many other Heads - so often proves that we are all trying to do something to bring up the pupils in our care.

    But from there to making us responsible and accountable for all of society's ills . . .

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at one of the TES Careers Advice Service seminars or individual consultations
  13. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Incurably, but the trouble is that he has accomplices. Even with policies where he has contradicted himself openly, there are people who go along with it all, saying, "We have to do it because the government/Ofsted will ...".

    Perhaps Gove and his cronies know something that Dave and George don't.
  14. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    The big lie.
  15. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    There is plenty of evidence linking diet with cognitive ability. Here's one from Journal of School Health, Vol. 78, No. 4. (1 April 2008),

    Multilevel regression methods were used to examine the association between indicators of diet quality and academic performance while adjusting for gender and socioeconomic characteristics of parents and residential neighborhoods. Results:  Across various indicators of diet quality, an association with academic performance was observed. Students with decreased overall diet quality were significantly more likely to perform poorly on the assessment. Girls performed better than boys as did children from socioeconomically advantaged families. Children attending better schools and living in wealthy neighborhoods also performed better. Conclusions:  These findings demonstrate an association between diet quality and academic performance and identify specific dietary factors that contribute to this association. Additionally, this research supports the broader implementation and investment in effective school nutrition programs that have the potential to improve student access to healthy food choices, diet quality, academic performance, and, over the long term, health.

    Surely giving pupils meals with good quality nutritious and healthy ingredients is one of the biggest no-brainers out there?
  16. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    But what about this bit:

  17. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    There are myriad reasons why some parents would not wish their child to partake of a school meal; particularly if the source of the ingredients could not be guaranteed to comply with medical or cultural needs. I am thinking: serious nut allergies, diabetes, coeliacs disease, kosher, halal etc.

    The responsibility for what a child eats lies with its parents. If parents don't seem to be able to work out what constitutes a healthy packed lunch then that is where the DFE should be focusing its attention. In fact, I have always maintained that the most important meal of the day is the one that children consume before the start of the school day, ie breakfast.

    Mr Gove must really think that we cannot see through his cunning plan: change teachers' non-pay conditions of employment (as proposed in recent recommendations to STRB) so that teachers are contractually obliged to sit with/supervise children whilst they eat their school meals, sack lunchtime supervisers and use the cost saving to fund a school meal for every child.
  18. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    If a child does not eat breakfast and has beans on toast for dinner, then surely a portion of frozen sweetcorn and peas, 3 'fish' fingers, two scoops of mashed potatoes and an apple* aren't really going to make a huge difference to the child's academic achievements.

    * Tuesday's menu. The vegetarian option was a portion of plain pasta to replace the fish fingers.
  19. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Which was my point: "while adjusting for gender and socioeconomic characteristics of parents and residential neighborhoods". Add in - as I have stressed - the fact that at most, children will receive 190 school dinners per year out of the 365 days.

    Moreover, any studies attempting to "prove" that provision of nutritionally "better" meals accounts for a person's higher attainment would need to set up a wide range of control groups, because - as indicated earlier - other factors (often related to the wider socio-economic group in which a person is brought up) will usually have a large role to play.

    Example: a friend at university ate chocolate for breakfast and lunch and his dinner was of similar awful nutritional content. Shouldn't he have failed his degree, rather than getting one of the (in those days) rare firsts?
  20. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I've just been doing the maths on this notion that the report's authors (Gove's rich holiday buddies) have, that schools themselves could pay for all kids to get free dinners. A secondary school of 1000 pupils - in which (say) 15% already get free dinners (I'm aware that in some it's more and others less) - requires 850 pupils to have their dinner paid for at a cost of (say) £2.50 per day.

    That's £403,750 every year.

    They also suggested councils might pay for it. Those would be the same councils which have already slashed services to the bone after having cuts of billions already and which are being asked to do the same again next year.

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