Sunderland headteachers promise academies will continue serving pupils top tucker

Pupils from St Anthony's Girls' Catholic Academy, Sunderland enjoy a broad range of meals in their school dining hall.
Pupils from St Anthony's Girls' Catholic Academy, Sunderland enjoy a broad range of meals in their school dining hall.
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ACADEMY headteachers in the city have vowed to continue providing pupils with top quality food.

A national poll of parents found 92 per cent want an independent body to ensure nutritional standards of lunches in academies and free schools are met.

Although academies and free schools are expected to comply with the regulations on school food, they are not bound by the Government to do so.

However, headteachers at Sunderland academies say they have always met the food guidelines and this will continue.

Dr Phil Ingram, headteacher at Southmoor Academy, said: “We were one of the first schools to keep all our pupils in at lunchtime because we feel it is best for their safety and for what they are eating.

“We have always met the food standards before we became an academy and have no intention of changing. I can’t understand why any school would not want to meet the regulations.”

Monica Shepherd, headteacher at St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, said the school puts a big emphasis on the students eating a healthy lunch and the catering department has even won awards for this.

She said: “It is vitally important that students have an appropriate lunch. They need to eat well to help with their learning.

“For some of our children their school lunch might be their only meal of the day depending on circumstances at home.

“We have a large and varied range of foods and school meals are very popular with both the students and staff.”

The online survery of parents was carried out for the Local Authority Caterers Association, LACA, and the online dinner money company ParentPay.

Other results included 83 per cent of the 12,000 parents who responded said schools in areas of deprivation should be given extra money for their catering service, a quarter said they wanted breakfasts to be provided by schools and 57 per cent said they did not know whether their child’s school was definitely meeting the standards.

It also showed 91 per cent of parents were very happy with the school meals service they received, 72 per cent said the quality of the food was key and 87 per cent said they found school meals good value for money.

TV chef Jamie Oliver, who campaigns for better school meals, urged the Government “to do something positive with the data” and supports demands for legislation on school meal nutrition to apply to all schools.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and shadow children’s minister, said: “Parents understand that school meals should be healthy and nutritious whatever type of school you attend, but Michael Gove has exempted more than a million children from healthy meals.

“Labour would change that, so that the rules developed with Jamie Oliver would apply to every school in England.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools