Why this might be the most important training your teachers receives!
The health of our children hit the headlines, again at the beginning of 2019, as it was revealed pupils are consuming 300Ibs of sugar before they hit 10 years old and with the latest stats from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), it appears that childhood obesity is set to double in the next decade. It is no surprise then, that the UK Government is turning to schools to take a responsibility in tackling what is unquestionably the biggest threat to children today. Ofsted stated boldly in 2018:
‘Education for health is essential and must be done well, without distraction. It will not be done well if schools are devoting time and energy to things in which they are neither expert nor likely to have an impact’ (2018:6)
A recent study, explored that just 34% of teachers felt confident in promoting health and wellbeing to pupils, and according to TES, the value to which teachers are putting on their own health is at an all time low – being the third most stressed workers in Britain, half are turning to food and 60% of them, like the rest of our population, are either overweight or obese. Teachers are not experts in health and currently, there is very little resource or motivation to up-skill them – until now.
The evidence that teaching children about healthy living impacts on children’s behaviour outside of school and in contributing to pupil’s personal growth and development is unquestionable. Ofsted, accentuates (in the same document), that when training and development on healthy living is offered to staff, this has a fundamental impact and increases confidence to teach:
When staff are more confident re: supporting and teaching topics, children know and trust their teacher and are more likely to ‘apply this knowledge.’
Healthy Staff, Healthier Pupils – The Training
With the British Nutrition Foundation reporting that 7 in 12 teachers had not undertaken any professional development with regard to food in the past two years, Healthy Teachers, Healthier Pupils, developed by School Health UK, is specifically designed for teachers and promises to give staff the confidence, and a lifetime of resources, in understanding nutrition and healthier lifestyles in a bid to embed a Whole School Culture of Health in your school!
We’ll explore, as either a twilight session or as a half day the following:
How to embed a Whole School Culture of Health – Exploring the key principles of healthy eating and nutrition (including busting diet myths!) in order to offer a foundation in embedding a Whole School Culture of Health in school for both staff and pupils!
How to Make Effective Use of Your Sports Premium – Understanding how to implement the PE and Sports Premium effectively to get maximum value.
Mental health, Wellbeing and Pupil Engagement – How nutrition impacts our learning, development and our mood! Together we will demonstrate how your break and lunch times are ineffective, may be increasing unnecessary anxiety amongst both staff and pupils and show you how to tackle it!
This training provides a platform for your school to actively engage with the mental health agenda.
Clarity – How do the Childhood Obesity Plans impact our school and what’s on the horizon?
We’ll deconstruct the most up to date government guidance (including Ofsted’s: Obesity, healthy eating and Physical activity in school’s report the sugar levy and the School Food Plan) offering you the most up to date projections of what’s round the corner for Health in School and how you can get ahead of the curve.
Ask the nutritionist anything! – Possibly the most popular aspect of training. Ask our nutritionist anything about nutrition, health and childhood obesity!
What Delegates have said?
“For staff to be able to personally understand and apply health knowledge to themselves, they are now able to execute it to pupils in all areas of the curriculum when food topics come up”
(YW – Head Teacher – East Midlands)
“Whether this was intentional or not, I now have a group of teachers who have become gurus of health amongst our staff – which has undoubtedly changed a culture!
(SM – Deputy Head – Buckinghamshire)
Paul’s career in the health and education sector has spanned for over a decade. Including positions as a chef, a nutritionist, a teacher, a counsellor for children and young people with eating disorders, a paediatric health consultant, a freelance journalist, a speaker and currently as the operations director for School Health UK.
Paul lead on the award nominated Healthy Child Project, that worked with hundreds of primary schools in reducing childhood obesity for Public Health England.
Over the past three years Paul has had much local and national press coverage and continues to appear and comment regularly on TV and radio on various topics of health. Paul is the Vice Chairman for the British Obesity society and belongs to two All Parliamentary Party Groups for both School Food and Obesity, having spoken in parliament twice.
He is a school governor in a primary school and is recognised as a leading expert in the field, regularly contributing to articles in the subject of childhood obesity and children’s health.
The Better Lunchtimes mark in 2018 successfully turned over the increase and improved take up of over 35,000 school meals a day! 👩🏻🍳 👨🏻🍳
Schools reported, being part of the BLM, that take up increased by up to 80% [lowest – highest] in just six months. With an average take up (Jan-Dec 2018) in schools I worked in increasing by 36% over a similar time period – potentially increasing school meals revenue, just from our intervention alone, by £24-30K per school over a school year! 😱
Heads reported to us that incidents at lunchtime inside and out (impacting the overall experience for pupils) reduced by up to 60% (four weeks pre and post intervention). 🏥
And finally, pupils perception of the overall experience increased in positivity by up to 60% (impacting pupils choices of whether to consume a school meal or packed lunch). 🌮 🌯 🥗
We know that the choice of either a packed lunch or a school meals is completely down to children and their choices rather than parents, as concluded in this study by the University of Leeds last year. Which demonstrated:
Children emerged as active decision makers exerting substantial power particularly in the initial decision to have a packed lunch, and then in influencing the lunch’s contents.
Despite this, both schools and catering providers are completely guilty of spending tireless resource and funding editing and adjusting the menus whilst the atmosphere of the lunch experience remains untouched. Quite simply, if I can eat a packed lunch in two minutes and then go outside whilst you’re still queuing to get your Roast Dinner on a Wednesday – I’m having a packed lunch. 🤷♀️
Why are you not seeing this? 🤦♂️
If you’d like School Health UK to prove our concept in one of your schools – please send me a message. We’ve improved the take up in EACH ONE OF OUR SCHOOLS since December 2017 and will continue to do so.
A Michelin stared chef wouldn’t allow his food to be served out of an unclean diner – so why are you any different? 👩🍳 👨🍳
I was a teacher once, I left because I couldn’t hack it. Honestly. My passion wasn’t there and I could not handle the ‘results. results. results’ nature of it all. 😔
“Stop teaching fish to climb trees”
CLIMBING FISH 🐟
I sit with hundreds of Head teachers each year, who are mostly on the verge of breaking point, emotionally drained with the pressures put on them to disregard each individual child’s need in place of a SATS paper, that (and I quote from one of the most successful head teachers in the country): ‘Is too difficult for an adult with a doctorate, let alone a 10 year old’.
Last night, my girlfriend and I had a night out with close friends of ours – both in education, one’s a head teacher, the other a teacher. My other half, not in education, asked:
‘what is actually it like having six weeks off?’
She was surprised to hear the response being described as:
‘It’s like waiting for a delayed tube train; right now, it’s calm and you’ve got some time to yourself, but in the back of your mind you know that at any moment it’s going to come at you, packed, hot, rushed and stressful’.
With that thought in mind. I figured, I’d offer some advice, what little advice I can offer, from education, experience and general life that I hope just one person will take something from. 🐣 🐥
Here are three ‘QUICK TIPS’ I hope will, at the very least, allow you to think about yourself this term.
I’ve got your back. You are great. 👊
You are important 👸🏽 🤴🏽
As a teacher, you spend every day, from start to finish, putting the needs of students first. Each day brings something new; you are challenged, pulled in different directions and are expected to just get on with it, all whilst taking the brunt of misplaced anger from the student who is having a tough time at home. 🏚
You are a human being who has fears and worries of their own. You may also be a parent or a carer. But, regardless of who you really are, you are just ‘Miss’ or ‘Sir’, to your students.
I am convinced that no one should care for the wellbeing of others at the expense of their own. Having worked with teachers in both primary and secondary schools, I know how hard it is to find time for yourself amidst the planning, marking and other commitments. But, I’ve also seen how taking small steps to improve wellbeing can help teachers avoid that feeling of being completely weighed down by work. 🏋🏾♀️
This term, try some of these tips to make sure you start out on the right foot:
Be active 🤸♂️ 🤼♀️ 🤾🏿♂️ 🏌️♀️
Physical activity is proven to reduce stress. To a lot of us, exercise may seem time-consuming – something you’d obviously want to avoid doing in term-time. But exercise doesn’t always mean spending hours on a treadmill after a busy day. Instead, you could do some gardening, or cycle to work. On a lot of days, this may be difficult to fit in, but if you can make time for a small amount of activity even once or twice a week, you’ll still feel the benefits.
Be kind to yourself 🧘♀️ 🚣♂️
Allow yourself a little “me time” before bed to read a book or take a bath. It may seem like this won’t make a difference to the pressure you feel, but making sure you relax and wind down in the evening is proven to protect your heart, boost memory, help you make better decisions and lower the risk of depression!
It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses and worries of work. So, if you’re struggling to switch off, mindfulness can be a useful tool. These techniques can help you to focus on the present, rather than taking the stresses of school home with you.
Continue to connect 📲 👭
To be able to function well, we need to feel close to and valued by others. Sometimes you might feel too busy to socialise, but it is important that you don’t neglect the relationships you nurtured during the school holidays.
When you are back at work, make sure you still spend time with family or friends. This doesn’t have to mean ignoring your planning for a whole weekend – it could be as simple as watching a half-hour TV show with your family once a week, or meeting a friend for coffee one morning. 📺
Implementing these changes may seem impossible on top of your mountains of marking. But once you’ve put them into practice, it will be easier to make regular time for them, and looking after yourself will begin to feel like the priority it is! 🤗
One of the most common conversations and debates I have with the media, schools, parents and even children sometimes, is overall, what is more cost efficient – Packed Lunches or School Meals 🤔
Fighting it out 🤼♂️
IN THE BLUE CORNER 🔵 you have packed lunches – parents know what their kids are eating, children can independently select what they know their child will eat; students can, quite often, go in to the dining space, eat it and go straight outside – without having to queue for half an hour to be given something they’re not that interested in. What’s more, they’re cheaper than school meals right?
Not quite, IN THE RED CORNER 🔴 represents school meals – the Mike Tyson of lunchtimes – old as the day is long and made an impressive come back in recent years, but still – as a nation we are stuck in the past remembering the ‘old days’ the ‘pink custard and smash’ days (🤔), the ‘Coca-cola sponsor kitchens’ days, the ‘you’ll get what you’re given whether you like it or not’ days. The fact is, those days are long gone… aren’t they?
Revolution one ☝️
We all know about the Feed me better campaign (That goofy Essex fella’s first initiative to tackle school meals), so I don’t need to bang on about how that began the snowball of tackling ‘the school lunch’.
But, what followed was the revision of all foods served in school and the releasing of revised, and quite stringent, food standards (see Nutritional Standards for school lunches). This, without doubt, changed a culture of school meals in England – from that day forward.
Following collated feedback of the possible complexity of these standards, an independent review (six years later), revised the standards and out the other end popped the School Food Plan:
“designed to make it easier for school cooks to create imaginative, flexible and [more importantly], nutritious menus. They will be mandatory in all maintained schools, new academies and free schools.”
A year previous, a second revolution in school meals occurred as we saw the introduction of the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) policy which stipulated all children (in state funded schools) in reception, year 1 and year 2 should be entitled to a free school lunch. The Aim was both to improve academic attainment, via positive nutrition, and to save families significant funding over an average school year. The first year alone saw an increase of students consuming a well balanced, decent school meal by 50%!
😲 THE. BIG. QUESTION… 😲
So here we go, the head line act, the BIG QUESTION…
Whilst disregarding the fact that you and I could fill a lunchbox full of Cheerio’s and call it ‘lunch on a budget’, I wanted to explore, in detail, something that has never been done before. Something that will answer genuine questions for all – parents, teachers. Students, health ministers, catering providers, food manufacturers, supermarkets – the queen; I know you’ve all wanted to know:
CAN YOU MAKE UP FIVE DAYS WORTH OF VARIED, WELL BALANCED AND NUTRITIOUS PACKED LUNCHES USING GUIDANCE PROVIDED ON THE SCHOOL FOOD PLANFOR THE AVERAGE COST OF A SCHOOL MEAL – £2 A DAY?
Well, my friend. It took about 43 hours of my life, sweating in my office but we’ve got the results [in a funky table below]; but first, some caveats I had to contend with to sub out the naysayers:
RULES OF THE TRIAL 👨🏫 :
1️⃣ I collated the menus based on SFP recommendations based on maximum portion sizes recommend as if the menu being wrote was for a seven-year-old child (mid way through primary education).
2️⃣ Prices were worked out, per day, based on the amount used. However, were brought from each supermarket as if I were buying enough for ‘three weeks worth’ to prevent a ‘weight and quantity’ bias (see below).
3️⃣ To disregard any ‘but you’ll have staples in the cupboard already’, or, ‘you can’t buy 43g of bread’, or even, ‘if you only use that amount it will go out of date’ – for this project two things must be noted: I went shopping and ‘purchased enough food’ as if I was going to make the same menus for three weeks – i.e. If I needed a pitta bread for the Friday, my ‘shop’ would be the cost of three pitta breads, divided by three to equate the day’s meal, this is to allow for some fluidity of quantity whilst respecting the three-week cycle catering providers abide too. Secondly, expiry dates do not exist in the world of this trial.
4️⃣ I found a source stating the biggest supermarket chains in the UK as listed here and opted for the top two in the market: Tesco and Sainsbury’s. I also chose the most popular budget supermarket – Aldi.
5️⃣ Whilst shopping, where possible, I did not purchase any value or premium brands, instead opting for the mid range items.
6️⃣ All prices were correct as of July 2018 in all stores based in Leamington Spa. The costs per item were worked out based on suggested weights (see SFP and photos).
THE RESULTS 👨💻
First things first, we had to collate recommendations of food groups using the School Food Plan here, which gave us a table looking like the below:
Once food groups had been deciphered, I collated a menu paying close attention to a good variety, whilst ensuring all food groups were ticked off, as recommended, for the week – including a ‘meat free day’ as seen below:
With the menus collated, I worked out the weights and quantities needed for a primary school child (aged seven) taken directly from ‘Portion sizes and food groups’ on page six of the SFP:
With all of this admin complete, once all weights and quantities had been worked out, I took my (on reflection – inappropriate) A3 shopping list to the supermarket and began shopping:
Seven (genuinely) hours later, I stumbled back into my office, to begin a night of data collection:
THE BIG RESULTS 😮 👯🎈
SO THIS IS IT! All the data was collated, the costs worked out, the menus wrote, the standards followed and the answer to THE BIG QUESTION
CAN IT BE DONE????
CAN YOU MAKE UP FIVE DAYS WORTH OF VARIED, WELL BALANCED AND NUTRITIOUS PACKED LUNCHES USING GUIDANCE PROVIDED ON THE SCHOOL FOOD PLAN FOR THE AVERAGE COST OF A SCHOOL MEAL – £2 A DAY?
Quite simply – no 😕
As you can see, Aldi, as expected, offered us the best returns in terms of output of spend (£14.50) and Sainsbury’s (albeit being just £2 more) came out the most expensive at £16.50 for the weeks shop. But neither can proudly boast that in their stores you can buy a ‘well balanced nutritious packed lunch’ (using the SFP as guidance) for less than a school meal…
But you’re forgetting something…
The above table isn’t ‘it’, it isn’t as clear as ‘well that’s that – concluded for now’- we’ve forgotten a number of really key points:
Firstly, when your child has a school meal in his dining space, he’s learning how to use a knife and fork, he’s chatting to his friends, he’s trying foods – sharing experiences with his peers, he has independent access to a fresh salad bar every single day.
The food that he’s offered is not only ‘balanced and nutritious’, but is value for money based on purchased quantity – that 70% Cocoa brownie with beetroot slyly crammed into it to ‘up the iron’ after he’d just eaten a good portion of, red label approved chicken, served with a side of locally sourced veg and ‘home made’ bread that was made on site just hours earlier, certainly would cost both you and I a lot more than £2.50 a day… and did you know all of the above is a standard expectation for school meals providers these days?
We completely forget, as parents, that children spend 30 hours a week in school, that’s 30 hours away from home. Those 30 hours should not only be the most exciting 30 hours of their lives, but an opportunity to play around with taste buds, to be exposed and self educate themselves about food so when they do come home to you they’ve made choices and can tell you about what they like and dislike. At the weekend, when you’ve got them all to yourselves, treat them to something – let them tell you what their favourite food was this week at school; let them tell you what they want off the menu next week – but for goodness sake, stop wasting money on foods that are either overly priced (in comparison to what your school meals provider has provided pound for pound [penny for penny]) or have taken you seven hours to produce!
If you have a child that is between 4-7 years old, in a primary school, in England– you have a DUTY to ensure he is having a school meal – Theresa has already tried to swipe them away our kids once. I have no doubt you could provide a ‘decent’ meal if push came to shove – but think of little Benjamin whose Mum hasn’t got the funds to spend £2-3 a day on any type of food once free school meals gets taken away from her.
If you have children between ages 7-11 and you’re in the 1.9% of parents providing your child with the most beautifully balanced packed lunch for £2 a day – you’re not spending enough time with your child. Buy a school meal. I can almost guarantee it’s better than anything you and I can produce.
I’d like to have spent time filming this whole process to educate those in future, It would be good to spend some time exploring not just consumers views on food purchased in a supermarket, but that of children – on tape.
I’ve had a number of conversations, with many food manufacturers, as I believe there is a market to devise a ‘pack’ of food that is balanced for parents that should be available in the mainstream supermarkets that can be brought for [avg.] £2 a day.
I further believe that in school dining spaces more can and should be done to restrict the content of poor quality nutrition in lunchboxes – one of the key things we do is to embed a ‘water for all’ policy in school – adding fruits to water for flavour. Regardless of who your child is, eventually he will drink the water – I’ve seen it thousands of times.
There is certainly scope to spend some time with a manufacture purchasing, buying and preparing a school lunch menu offering oppotunity to explore time saving, cost effective nutritional foods offered to students
This project secures that regardless of what we think and feel about school meals, they really are a money saver. I’ve seen hundreds of school lunches in my time and continue to spend my day to day improving every single school lunchtime I visit, we independently ensure every single school lunchtime has an atmosphere that anyone would want to eat in. The components of ‘good school food’ is usually alright – it’s the environment it’s prepared in, the support staff have producing it or more importantly, the separation removed away from the customers (students) that affects the success of all. I believe that if we spend more time investing time and resource ensuring each and every dining space in the United Kingdom is the most socially encouraging, calm, happy, independent, educating and healthy atmosphere every single day then that is the answer to our obesity problem. Yes, all children should be entitled to a great school meal – and we’re working on that, but the atmosphere in which they eat it is next – from both a physical and mental wellbeing perspective.