Jamie and Jimmy find out how a ‘Healthy Schools Rating Scheme’, which was promised but is yet to be delivered by the government, could help schools to transform their pupils’ health.
If you saw the show and want to get involved, tweet Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds: “.@DamianHinds, our schools want a Healthy Schools Rating Scheme to celebrate what they’re doing to keep kids healthy #healthyschools”
School dinners have come a long way since Jamie’s documentary in 2005 (we can’t believe it’s 13 years ago already!), but there’s still work to do to promote child health inside and outside the classroom.
And this time, it’s not just school dinners… It’s about everything inside the school gates.
The government proposed a ‘Healthy Schools Rating Scheme’ in 2016, which would help schools to become all-round healthy zones… But we’re yet to see it put into place.
What does a “healthy school” look like?
In this Friday Night Feast episode, Jamie and Jimmy visit Gayhurst Primary School in East London to see the brilliant work they do to help keep pupils healthy.
When they arrive, there’s butternut squash and chickpea curry being served with jollof rice and flatbreads. Delicious! Everything’s cooked on site by chef Nicole Pisani, a former chef who’s taken on the challenge of cooking in school thanks to the brilliant Chefs In Schools programme.
Nicole preps veg-packed recipes for 450 kids each day, and she’s not just cooking either. She’s also teaches the kids in school all about the food they’re eating to promote lifelong healthy habits.
There’s also a big outdoor space where kids can play after lunch, plus pupils are encouraged to walk a ‘Daily Mile’. The whole school environment has been designed to promote better kids’ health, and teachers report that children are more on the ball than ever.
As headteacher Louise Nichols describes, “Nicole connected us with great suppliers of fresh food and used an app to ensure that we’re always getting seasonal, best-value raw materials for our school meals. This means that the food quality has gone up while the cost has gone down.
Following the success of this work I’ve rolled the same model out into my other two schools and have seen huge improvements. At those schools more than 50% of the children are entitled to Free School Meals. It’s incredibly important to all of us in education to make sure that if lunch is your one hot meal of the day it is nutritious and delicious!”
Why do we need a new rating scheme?
Back when Jamie first addressed school dinners there were standards for dog food but not school food. Some things have really changed for the better since then! We now have school food standards, but there’s still no way for parents to know whether schools are implementing them.
Ofsted judges school performance on English and Maths results – which is important, of course – but we want to see health, activity and wellbeing factored in as well.
It’s common sense. Several studies have shown that healthy lifestyles, including eating habits and physical activity, are associated with improved academic achievement.
What should the Healthy Schools Rating Scheme cover?
The scheme needs to address the whole picture – it’s no good teaching food education if your tuck shop or school vending machine is packed with chocolate and crisps, with no healthier options. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?
Plus, the scheme should apply to all schools, no matter what their status, so it raises standards across the whole country, as well as celebrating amazing examples such as Gayhurst Primary.
Why don’t we support school leaders, by using funds raised from the sugary drinks levy to promote health in their schools?
What’s the hold-up?
In 2016, the government said they’d introduce a ‘Healthy Schools Rating Scheme’. But we’ve been waiting for them to deliver ever since!
We all know that what gets measured gets done, and it’s great to see Ofsted has announced they’re reviewing their inspection framework, to include the broader quality of education rather than just results. A healthy school environment is obviously a big part of this! And the Healthy Schools Rating Scheme is the best place for Ofsted to start.
More about Chefs in Schools
Chefs in Schools is a team of chefs and teachers who transform food, food culture and food education in schools. The initiative, which launched earlier this year, places top chefs in state London primary schools as another way of getting great school dinners on the table. Their goal is to place 100 professional, restaurant-trained chefs in 100 schools by 2023, but that figure may even grow after on overwhelming response from both schools and chefs just after its launch.
This is clearly an amazing, innovative programme, which challenges chefs to deliver great school dinners. At Gayhurst Primary, the chefs are also responsible for delivering the national curriculum for cooking, which is now statutory for all children aged seven plus. At Gayhurst that means cooking classes in the kitchen, visiting science classes to talk about nutrition and healthy eating, and even providing vegetables for kids to draw in art class. It’s truly a whole school approach!
Need some help?
Chefs in Schools is just one example of the brilliant organisations out there that can help your school deliver tasty school meals and hands-on food education. Other organisations you should check out include Food for Life, LACA, School Food Plan and School Food Matters.
Visit www.chefsinschools.org.uk to find out more about getting a chef into your school.
And you can read more about Jamie’s campaigns on Friday Night Feast, here.
DOWNLOAD THE 4 SCHOOL MENUS FEATURED IN THE EPISODE, HERE:
Charlton Manor Primary School
Weekly Meal Plan
Gayhurst Community School
Weekly Meal Plan
Park Community School
Weekly Meal Plan
Western All Saints Primary & Abbot Alphedge Academy
Weekly Meal Plan