Thursday, November 11, 2010

Letter to Secretary of State for Education from 50 headteachers

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
House of Commons
10 November 2010

Dear Secretary of State,
We the undersigned ask you to protect the vital school lunch service from the cuts to Local Authority budgets. Good school meals are essential to protect pupil’s health and improve behaviour, motivation and ability to learn and achieve. Better access to good food at school means better health and improved life chances, especially for poorer pupils.
There is good evidence to support this, and we have personally witnessed the transformative effects of improved school meals. Our schools are among the 3,000 schools involved in the Food for Life Partnership, where quality food is matched by food education, cooking lessons, on-site food growing and improvements to the dining area. In less than two years, meal take-up amongst Food for Life Partnership Bronze, Silver and Gold schools has risen by almost three times the national average. This approach enables a ‘virtuous circle’ of improved food quality and further increased lunch take-up, spreading fixed costs further and ensuring a quality catering service remains economically viable.
A quarter of children are now overweight or obese, meaning they are more likely to suffer from serious health problems later in life costing the NHS an estimated £10 billion a year. Many children are also malnourished, meaning they lack the vitamins and minerals essential to maximise health and ability to learn. As Under-Secretary of State Tim Loughton acknowledged in the Commons recently, school meals “often represent the only nutritious meal in some children’s day”. Improving school food and food culture can help to cut the cost of ill health and teach children to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. The implementation of food and nutritional standards in primary and secondary schools has seen great improvement in the quality of food served in schools, but these improvements are now at risk from the pressures on budgets.
We believe that by involving the whole school community in improving food culture, and providing healthy and sustainable school meals on a limited budget, every child is given the opportunity to get the start in life they deserve. We urge you to protect the school lunch service from changes to local authority and school budgets.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Broadway, All Saints School, Wyke Regis
Yvonne McLean, Ashdene Primary, Wilmslow
Martin Craig, Balby Carr Sport and Science Learning Community, South Yorkshire
Jean Primmer, Barrow Hill Primary, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Cristina Brilhante, Bradfields School, Chatham, Kent
Margaret Portus, Bradley Barton Primary School and Nursery Unit, Newton Abbott, Devon
Mark Eager, Brixham College, Torbay, Devon
Diane Herbert, Burnwood Community School, Stoke on Trent
Paul Frost, Cambois First School Blyth, Northumberland
Ms Dwyer, Clifford Holroyde EBD College, Liverpool
Maureen Batty, Coppice Farm Primary School, Nottinghamshire
Alex Young, Cottingham High School, East Riding, West Yorkshire
Gerry Heynes, Courthouse School, Maidenhead, Kent
Brenda Jones, Cranmore Infant School, Solihull, West Midlands
Maurice Rushbrook, Cranwell Primary School, Lincolnshire
Marilyn Phipps, Damson Wood Infant School, Solihull
Karen Purser, Durrington High School, Worthing, West Sussex
Anthony Tierney, Fairfield Endowed Junior School, Buxton, Derbyshire
Peter Harris, Farsley Farfield Primary School, West Yorkshire
Lee Ryman, Fir Tree Junior School, Wallington, Oxford
Peggy A Farrington, Hanham High School, Bristol
Catherine Sykes, Hemsworth Arts and Community College, Pontefract, West Yorkshire
Gill Bassett, Lacey Gardens Junior School, Louth, Lincolnshire
Caroline Seaman, Ludlow CE School, Ludlow, Shropshire
Ms A Thomson, Marlborough School Science College, Hertfordshire
Samantha Williams, Middleton Primary School, Leeds
Tamsin Dyer, Mousehole Primary School, Mousehole, Cornwall
Mrs. Elizabeth Ditton, Nacton CEVC Primary School, Nacton, Suffolk
Mrs Diane Appleby, Seething & Mundham Primary School, Seething, Norfolk
Mrs Sarah Howat, Seething & Mundham Primary School, Seething, Norfolk
Morag Kingsbury, St Andrew's CofE Primary School, Chardstock,Devon
Jan Abrams, St Leonard's Heath and Reach VA Lower School, Leyton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
Robert Entwistle, St Peter's CE Middle School, Old Windsor, Berkshire
Elizabeth Stubbs, St Stephen's CE Junior School, Twickenham, London
Anne-Marie McElhinney, St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, Eastfield, Peterborough
Mike Pyle, St Wilfred's Catholic High School and Sixth Form College, West Yorkshire
Steven P Hatcher, St. Aidan's Church of England High School, Harrogate, Yorkshire
Karen Walker, St. Andrew's VA Primary School, Salisbury,
Martin Harding, St. Michael's C of E Primary School, Kingsteington, Devon
David L Yeld, The Downs Primary School and Nursery, Essex
Anne Hendon-John, The Polygon School, Southampton
Ann Thornton, Wallsend Jubilee Primary School, Tyne and Wear
Douglas Bone, Wandle Valley School, Carshalton Surrey
Mandy Simmons, Wandle Valley School, Carshalton Surrey
Ian Johnston, William Morris School, Walthamstow, London
Robin Reynolds, Woodgate Primary School, Bartley Green, Birmingham
Margaret Beel, Lyndhurst Primary, Portsmouth
Ian Nurser, St Peters (controlled) Primary, Wem, Shropshire
Jo Claridge, Oldfield Park Infants School, Somerset

Well done Food for Life Partnership for bringing these schools together

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Looks like Jamie is back on the case!

Below is a press release from The Press Association

Oliver to fight school dinner cuts

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver met with the Government on Wednesday to challenge planned cuts to school dinners, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The TV cook arranged to meet Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to discuss the Government's decision to end the School Lunch Grant, introduced in 2008 after Mr Oliver's campaign for better school meals.

The £240 million ring-fenced provision was aimed at raising the quality of low-cost, healthy school meals for pupils from middle-income families.

But from March 2011 it will be absorbed into the main schools budget, leaving head teachers to decide how the money should be spent.

Without a ring-fenced fund, they will have to balance demands for new books, stationery and sports equipment against healthy lunches.

The Department of Health confirmed that Mr Oliver met with Mr Lansley earlier but would not provide details of the private meeting.

Their discussion followed talks at the Department of Health on Monday attended by Mr Oliver and health professionals including GPs and child obesity experts.

The experts warned Mr Lansley that revoking the School Lunch Grant would be detrimental to pupils' health, behaviour and academic performance.

The fund is planned to come to an end just months after it was announced that the School Food Trust, also set up after Mr Oliver's campaign against unhealthy school meals, will lose its Government funding. Its status is being changed so that it will no longer be funded by the Department for Education, instead continuing as an independent charity from April 2011.

Sandra Russell, chair of the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA), which represents 100,000 school canteen staff, said she was "very grateful" for Mr Oliver's continued campaigning for the grant.

Copyright © 2010 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Todays school dinner

A rather tasty cottage pie which was certainly nice and warming on a chilly November day. The number of children eating school dinners still increasing but some children can only have them once or twice a week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hierarchy of needs

"So, please, please have a rethink, Mr Gove. Because it doesn't really matter how many A*s you've managed if you've also got scurvy and rickets."

Well said Carrie Quinlan! This is a quote from excellent comment is free post on the Guardian website.

CAUTION reading some of the comments underneath may make you despair

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Brilliant letter in today's guardian

The Guardian, Thursday 4 November 2010

Education secretary Michael Gove should put two and two together before he takes money away from school dinners to improve attainment (Axed free meals pay for Gove's school scheme, 3 November). Research into the benefits of good school food shows a nutritious lunch leads to improvements in pupil behaviour, motivation and ability to learn and achieve, especially for poorer children. If Mr Gove's proposed pupil premium wants to help raise attainment and "close the gap between rich and poor", then that money should be spent on providing good food for every child.

We work with nearly 3,000 schools across the country, putting great food on the school dinner menu and food education in the timetable. Food for Life Partnership schools in disadvantaged areas report an increase in attendance as well as improved behaviour, and meal take-up among participating schools has risen by almost three times the national average.

Since Chestnuts primary school in Haringey, north London, joined the partnership in 2007 there have been far fewer incidents in the playground at lunchtimes, and no exclusions for almost 12 months. The school has experienced improved academic attainment for three consecutive years.

Paul Frost, the headteacher at Cambois first school in Northumberland, has said: "We work in an area where educating children on the importance of food choices and the importance of ensuring the children receive a balanced meal each day cannot be underestimated. It's crucial that we continue to be able to maintain the current provision for the benefit of the children and families we serve."

Libby Grundy

Director, Food for Life Partnership

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sorry children in poverty...

...but you wont be eligible for todays free school dinner because Mr Gove wants to pay a former City trader for a scheme to help academy schools to improve standards - whatever that means. Sounds suspiciously like a quango to me that wants to promote the market within schools.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Poor kids lose out to a City fund manager

It has long been a source of shame for this country that you can be officially under the poverty line and yet not eligible for free school meals. It took the last government long enough to address this. Sadly this current coalition government think the money would be better spent on an endowment fund for getting academies to support other schools. So poor children who can't afford the school meals that their better off friends enjoy will have to go hungry so the government can fund an ideological talking shop? The money that would have been spent on nutritional meals will pay the salary of a former city fund manager?

I have no confidence that this scheme will make the slightest improvement to school. If Mr Gove is serious about driving up school standards he would do well to consider that hungry children find it difficult to learn. But I suppose that this is not a problem anyone in the government has ever faced on a first hand basis. Ofsted have already reported on the fact that many parents simply cannot afford to pay for school meals for all of their children

Please tell me this is a nightmare and I can wake up soon.

Read what the Guardian has to say here.