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School Meal Rules should apply to Academies - parents

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."

Source: BBC News

More from MG Training: Nutrition Training

Indoor laundry drying 'poses a health risk'

Drying laundry in the home poses a health risk to those prone to asthma, hay fever and other allergies, according to new research.

A study carried out by the Mackintosh School of Architecture found that many homes had too much moisture indoors.

Up to a third of this moisture was attributed to drying laundry.

The researchers have called on house builders to build dedicated drying areas into new housing to address the health concerns.

A study of 100 homes by the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit in Glasgow found 87% dried their washing indoors in colder weather.

Dust mites

Researcher Rosalie Menon said people were not aware how much moisture this added to the air.

She said: "Going into people's homes, we found they were drying washing in their living rooms, in their bedrooms.

"Some were literally decorating the house with it, but from just one load of washing two litres of water will be emitted."

A total of 75% of households, which were of mixed styles, had moisture levels which could lead to dust mite growth.

There was also a strong association between drying laundry and mould spores.

A particular mould spore known to cause lung infections in people with weakened immune systems was found in 25% of the homes sampled.

The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, was the first to track the implications of drying laundry passively inside the home.

All of the types of housing surveyed had a lack of suitable spaces for drying clothes.

The researchers want to see dedicated drying areas incorporated into new housing.

Ms Menon said: "These spaces should be independently heated and ventilated. It's very much going back to the airing cupboards we saw in more historical types of housing."

Source: BBC News

More from MG Training: Asthma Awareness Training

'Urgent need' to get primary school children active

There is an urgent need to increase activity levels in primary school children in order to prevent health problems later in life, according to scientists.

Researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Newcastle found that some eight to 10-year-olds were active for only 20 minutes a day.

Their study suggests girls are less active than boys.

The findings are published in the journal PLoS One.

The scientists gave 508 primary school children advanced pedometers to measure their physical activity levels over a week.

They found that just 4% of waking time, or 20 minutes, was spent doing moderate to heavy vigorous activity.

They said 60 minutes a day was recommended.

Dr Mark Pearce, from Newcastle University, told the BBC he was surprised by the low activity levels "and even more surprised that girls were even lower".

He added: "Activity drops in teenage years and if its this low at eight, there's not much further to fall."

Role models on TV?

Older fathers seemed to have less active children and, curiously, parents who restricted television access also had less active children.

The researchers said it was an unexpected result which may have been a quirk in this group of school children. One idea is that television acts as a role model, so watching the European Championships may inspire children to try to emulate the likes of Wayne Rooney in the playground.

Prof John Reilly, from the University of Strathclyde, said: "There is an urgent need for interventions, at home and at school, which will help primary school children become more physically active."

The researchers said it was important that parents did more to get their children into sport, but that it was also the responsibility of schools and education authorities.

Dr Pearce said: "One of the important things is that most girls don't see sport as cool.

"We need to be tackling these issues earlier by encouraging girls to exercise, by providing a wider range of opportunities than are currently on offer, and by ensuring they see positive female role models, particularly in the media."

Source: BBC Education News

More from MG Training: Leading Healthy Exercise Training

Benefits of feeding babies fruit and vegetables

We were really pleased to read the following piece in The Gateway, the magazine of De Montfort University, Leicester, regarding the benefits of feeding babies fruit and vegetables …

“Babies weaned on home-cooked fruit and vegetables are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables as childen.

Dr Helen Coulthard from DMU, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the University of Birmingham, analyzed data collected from parents born in 1991 and 1992.

Feeding babies home-cooked or raw fruit, or home cooked vegetables meant an increase in the consumption and variety of fruit and vegetables at age seven.

Weaning babies on ready-prepared fruit and vegetables, such as baby food jars and packets, made no difference to the increased eating of fruit and vegetables.”

Source: De Montfort University

More from MG Training: Early Years Nutrition Courses

Exam Success!

One of our national nursery clients has recently embarked on a programme to train all staff responsible for catering to the Level 3 Award in Food Safety.

This meets their legal requirement for all staff to be trained in food safety to a level "commensurate with their work activity". Naturally we were pleased to assist with delivering this training.

The course requires a greater depth of knowledge than the single day Level 2 course and focuses in on the role of a supervisor in managing food safety. In a nursery based setting, which includes babies as well as infants, the importance of the role cannot be over emphasised.

After completing their course of study the first delegates to complete this training sat their exam and we're pleased to announce they were successful! Our 100% pass rate with the Level 3 in Food Safety course has been maintained!

If you would like to discuss completing the Level 3 course with us then don't hesitate to contact us on 01780 411015 or email

More from MG Training: Level 3 Food Safety in Catering for Early Years

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