Food for thought

Breakfast, lunch and dinner all now seem to be on the school menu. Following the Lib Dems support for universal free school meals for infant pupils, and a desire to extend the free meals to all in primary schools, some Labour activists are championing the importance of breakfast clubs. Not to left out of the act the Tory Secretary of State said at a fringe in Birmingham something to the effect that:

schools should provide three meals a day to children at school, “You can really expand a child’s horizons by the extra-curricular activities they can do, … and maybe some tea in the afternoon. (Daily Telegraph)

So, even for Tories the emphasis is no longer on the family that eats together but on the school as the place where communal eating is learnt and the importance of regular meals is instilled in future generations.

Whether the Tory idea is a realistic one, or just an attempt to get a toe-hold on the food agenda that ever since the Thatcher government decided the issue of children eating well wasn’t a responsibility of the State and closed many school kitchens in an extension of the policy about food and schools that started with the abolition of free milk by the iron lady in the early 1970s isn’t clear, but it wasn’t one that I could have seen Michael Gove ever announcing.

The new Tory family and teacher friendly education policy stance adopted in Birmingham is possibly an interesting move away from the policies of Michael Gove during his period as Education Secretary. This is also apparent in the current Secretary of State’s concerns over workload and teacher preparation policies. Presenting an olive branch, or possibly to protect herself from possible defectors to UKIP a holly or similar native UK species branch, is probably a good idea in the run up to the general election, although whether or not it will have any effect, only time will tell. The Surveys do show teachers’ work hard during term-time and that increasingly the holidays don’t match up as a form of flexi-time compensation as I have pointed out in the past.

I like the Secretary of State’s ideas for the use of mobile phones for parents to communicate with schools and can suggest some developers if anyone wants to contact me, especially as security will be a big issue. The ‘school app’ with all interactions on it might be a good step forward, but not if left to usual government procurement methods.  I suggest a cheap trial that can be then rolled out when successful. The number of families involved eventually should have nothing to do with the price of developing the app.

Whether the idea was to make the Secretary of State seem tech savvy compared with her predecessors announcements in that field I don’t know, but it might start an interesting debate among school leaders. It might also make for some interesting exchanges in classrooms between pupils and their teachers.


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