13 January 2014
School Food Plan and KS1 Meals – Update

On 12 July 2013, the Department for Education published the School Food Plan; the outcome of the review of school food commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education in July 2012. The Plan can be downloaded at www.schoolfoodplan.com.

 

The School Food Plan set out findings that the nutritional quality of food in England’s schools has improved enormously since 2005, but that there is still some way to go for all schools to reach the high standards achieved by some. The plan shows how, led by the head teacher, the best schools provide tasty, nutritious food that children want to eat and weave food education into school life and the curriculum.

 

On 18September 2013,the government announced that free school meals will be introduced for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England from September 2014.

 

On 5 December 2013 the Chancellor confirmed the funding for this policy, including the provision of capital funding to increase kitchen and dining capacity in school.

 

In addition to capital funding that will go direct to schools; the Department is providing £18.7million to implement the School Food Plan. This includes investing £17.4 million in services working directly with schools in England.

 

Between 2009 and 2011, the Department for Education funded free school meals pilots in Durham, Newham and Wolverhampton. The evaluation of these pilots, which can be viewed here, concluded that offering universal free school meals achieved better outcomes for disadvantaged children.

 

Evidence also found that schools facing the most significant challenges include those that:

  • currently have low levels of school meal take-up or provide only packed lunches;
  • have in-house catering and are therefore unlikely to receive support from a ‘parent’ organisation such as a local authority or catering organisation;
  • are small and therefore struggle to make the school meal service break even;
  • are very large, and known to have capacity issues; and / or
  • prepare and transport school meals to other schools (known as ‘production kitchens’), some of which are in secondary schools.

It is estimated that the number of schools exhibiting these characteristics amounts to 8,000 schools in England. 120 of these schools have been identified in Somerset.

 

Following confirmation in December that funding will be made available to support implementation of the Government’s policy to provide free school meals for all children in KS1, a project team was developed to discuss the implications for Somerset. The group, led by Contract Support, have identified the huge challenges for Somerset schools and that the required increase in capacity will affect special, middle and secondary schools in addition to primary settings. The team will be presenting a report to the Compact Executive at the end of January outlining the key risks and capacity issues. Primary head teachers are being consulted on the idea of a coordinated Compact-sponsored approach to help facilitate readiness for September 2014.

 

The Somerset Health and Wellbeing in Learning Programme have formed a School Food Group to look more closely at the implications of the School Food Plan. Over the coming months, the group, made up of primary head teachers and teachers, will be pulling together a range of ideas and best-practice that will be shared countywide during the summer term.

For further details contact