Sustain's Children's Food Campaign responds with disappointment to OFSTED’s argument that schools should not be seen as a ‘silver bullet’ to tackling child obesity in the new ‘Obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in primary schools’ report.
Children’s Food Campaign co-ordinator Barbara Crowther says,
“This is a hugely disappointing response to the Government’s recently stated ambitious aim to halve child obesity by 2030. No-one expects schools to provide a ‘silver bullet’ or any other kind of responsibility-dodging cliché, but it is very clear that schools have a hugely important role to play, from provision of healthy school meals, to food education, cookery skills, physical exercise and equipping children with skills and knowledge to counterbalance the relentless bombardment and incursion of big junk food brands in their daily lives. In our experience most school leaders, teachers and parents are huge champions of what schools can do, and are already doing on these issues, and want more support.
"OFSTED has a clear role to play in providing visionary leadership and empowering effective frameworks for benchmarking progress and sharing good practice on making schools healthy food zones, but instead it seems to be offering platitudes and excuses. Right now, we’re putting OFSTED’s commitment to play its part in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter Two into Special Measures.”
Note to editors: Children’s Food Campaign recently ran a survey with parent members of its own Parents’ Jury on School Food. Here are some examples of what parents told us needs to change.
“A whole school policy that ensures that the food provided meets the school food standards and encourages parents to send in healthier packed lunches. Schools teach about healthy eating but practice does not reflect the teaching. In my child’s primary school sweets and chocolate are often used as rewards, which I think should be banned. Most children give out sweets on their birthdays. School regularly sell sweets and cakes as a way of fundraising for the school. There is a privately run breakfast club on the school site which serves sugary cereals such as cocoa pops.” Parent of 2 children, one primary age mixing school meal with packed lunch, one secondary age purchasing food in/near school
“The primary school should improve in areas other than school meals - too many sweets as rewards, sweets for birthdays, unhealthy things available from tuck shop and at breakfast club/after school club. I don’t know as much about the ethos at the secondary school, but I don’t think the vending machines have healthy food in them.” Parent of 3, with youngest on universal infant free meals, older children now taking packed lunches.
“To help reduce sugar consumption by school age children I think the Government should amend the School Food Standards to only allow fresh fruit to be offered as a school lunch time dessert. The standards currently allow desserts, cakes and biscuits to be offered as part of school lunch menus.” Parent of 2 primary children in fee paying free school, eating school lunches.
“Children need to be educated on food and nutrition with a hands-on approach. Only then can a real change be made for future generations.” Parent of 2 primary school children, with one on universal infant free meals.
“Teach children to grow and cook food - then they will understand the basics of food health.” Parent of 2 primary children on free school meals.
“I would also like to see a branding blackout zone in schools, where the psychological methods used by big brands to pose as ‘friends’ to young children are recognised as unacceptable and are tackled by schools. Having said that, my experience with the ice cream Fridays at our school reminded me that currently these sorts of ideas would seem alien to a lot of parents, and that change will probably be slow and hard to achieve!” Parent of 2 primary academy school children taking packed lunches.
Children's Food Campaign
Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.
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