Statement by Mr Gove re food standards in academies

J Downs made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

The request was successful.

From: J Downs

3 May 2012

Dear Department for Education,

Mr Gove told the Education Select Committee on 24 April 2012 that
“All the evidence seems to me to point in the other direction: that
schools that have academy freedoms have improved the quality of
food they offer children.”

Please could you release the evidence that underpins Mr Gove’s
claim that academies have improved the quality of food they offer
pupils.

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

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Department for Education

4 May 2012

Dear Mr/Ms Downs

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible. For information, the departmental standard for correspondence
received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you
are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number
2012/0026353.

Thank you

Department for Education
Public Communications Unit
Tel: 0370 000 2288

Web: www.education.gov.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/educationgovuk

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Department for Education

15 May 2012

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible (where a response is required). For information, the departmental
standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent
within 15 working days or 20 working days if you are requesting
information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2012/0026377.

Department for Education
[1]www.education.gov.uk

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From: J Downs

15 May 2012

Dear Department for Education,

Ref 2012/0026377 re evidence to underpin Mr Gove's statement about
food standards in academies

Today, 15 May, I received an acknowledgement for a FoI request made
at the beginning of May. I have already received an acknowledgement
from the DfE dated the beginning of May bearing the following
reference number: 2012/0026353

I am unsure why I should have received two acknowledgements. I
expect to receive a response to my FoI request by 1 June. I hope
there will be no delay caused by the second, belated
acknowledgement.

Yours faithfully,

J Downs

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Department for Education

30 May 2012


Attachment City Academy 2.doc
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Attachment SCHOOL FOOD CASE STUDY.DOC.doc
32K Download View as HTML

Attachment Menus.pdf
3.5M Download View as HTML

Attachment Broadclyst Primary School Mar12.doc
22K Download View as HTML

Attachment Robinswood.pdf
625K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr/Ms Downs,
       

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on the 3^rd of May which I have dealt with under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. You requested;

 

Mr Gove told the Education Select Committee on 24 April 2012 that  “All the evidence seems to me to point in the other
direction: that

schools that have academy freedoms have improved the quality of food they offer children.”   Please could you release the
evidence   that underpins Mr Gove’s claim that academies have improved the quality of food they offer pupils.

 

We have searched for all information relevant to your request and I have attached examples of Academy food menus and case
studies which were made available to the Secretary of State prior to the date of the Select Committee.  In addition there
is some informative research undertaken by the Schools Food Trust  (SFT) which shows that Academies are doing no worse
than maintained schools on food standards.  I have provided a link to their website as well as extracting some
information which you may find interesting. Also below are some examples of high quality food in Academies. 

 

I trust you will find this helpful, but if you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to
quote the reference number above in any future communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should make a complaint to the Department by writing
to me within two calendar months of the date of this letter.  Your complaint will be considered by an independent review
panel, who were not involved in the original consideration of your request. 

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the Department, you may then contact the Information
Commissioner’s Office. 

 

Mike Davies
Young People's Programme
[email address]
[1]www.education.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2012/0026377.

 

Additional information

The Guardian had done a piece on food in academies based on research from the School Food Trust.  This research –
published here: [2]http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/school... - was unfair because it did
not make a comparison between food in academies and maintained schools. 

 

A separate piece of research by the SFT that was not given to the Guardian but has also  been published by the SFT today
on their website
([3]http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/downlo...) states that
academies do “no better” than maintained schools but it does not say that they do worse.  In fact it says that academies
meet more of the food-based standards at lunchtime than maintained schools.  From page 12 of the School Food Trust’s
report:

 

“The nutritionists recorded all of the food and drink provided at lunchtime and mid-morning break. DfE nominated
academies met on average 10 of the 14 food-based standards at lunchtime, ranging from as few as six standards in two of
these academies to 14 in another two. The average number of food-based standards met in the randomly selected schools was
nine out of a possible 14, ranging from four to 14. The standards met most often were for water (13 academies), salt and
condiments (12 academies) and group 3 meat products (pies, met in 11 academies). Met least often were the standards for
starchy food cooked in oil and deep-fried foods (six academies) and extra bread and confectionery (seven academies).”

 

“Figure 1 shows compliance with the standards for which we have directly comparable data between the DfE nominated
academies, the academies selected randomly by SFT, and the secondary school food results for 80 schools nationally. For
starchy food cooked in oil, healthier drinks, confectionery, savoury snacks, and condiments, the schools in the secondary
school food study were more likely to be compliant with the standards than the randomly selected academies in the
qualitative study. For deep-fried foods, salt, extra bread, and free water, the randomly selected academies in the
qualitative study were more likely to be compliant than the schools in the secondary school food study. Academies
nominated by DfE were the most likely to be compliant of the three groups of schools, except for salt.

 

“None of the differences between school groups reached statistical significance, in part because of the small number of
schools in the qualitative study (see also note to legend for Figure 1). The findings suggest, therefore, that academies
are no better at meeting food-based standards at lunchtime than other schools.”

 

The following table from page 13 of the School Food Trust report (Figure 1 referred to above) clearly shows that
Academies are outperforming maintained schools on the majority of standards:

 

 

 

Maintained schools not meeting the standards and still serving banned food

 

The SFT’s own research from April (National Survey of School Food 2011
[4]http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/partne...) shows that
many maintained schools aren’t meeting the national standards and are still serving banned food.  The report states:

 

·         "it is clear that foods and drinks not permitted by the new standards have not disappeared completely from
schools"

 

·         53 per cent of secondary schools offer starchy food cooked in oil at lunchtime on 4-5 days a week.

 

·         50 per cent of secondary schools offer pizza at lunchtime on 4-5 days a week.

 

·         44 per cent of secondary schools offer ‘non-permitted drinks’ at lunchtime on 4-5 days a week – rising to 46
per cent at mid-morning break.

 

·         35 per cent of secondary schools offer desserts, cakes and biscuits including confectionary at lunchtime on 4-5
days a week.

 

·         Only 51 per cent of secondary schools don’t offer any ‘non-permitted drinks’ at lunchtime.

 

·         Only 46 per cent of secondary schools don’t offer any desserts, cakes and biscuits including confectionary at
lunchtime.

 

Given all this evidence a Department for Education spokesperson said:

 

“We trust teachers – the professionals on the frontline – to do what is best for their pupils.  Many academies go over
and above the minimum requirements and are offering their pupils high quality, nutritional food.  

 

“The School Food Trust’s own research on all secondary school food shows that even with food standards in place, many
maintained schools – far from being paragons of nutrition – are not meeting all the standards and are still offering
confectionery, banned food and non-compliant drinks to their pupils.  Clearly there is room for improvement in all
schools – maintained schools as well as academies.”

 

Examples of high quality food in academies

Ark Academies

• All their academies provide hot food on site and offer healthy meals, vegetarian choice and the opportunity for
families to avoid pork/ham etc.
• They offer fruit every day and if children stay for after school club there is a healthy snack at 4pm (fresh fruit,
cheese and crackers, pitta breads filled with hummus and salad, carrot sticks and an apple etc.)
• Their chef in Charter Academy in Portsmouth was BBC school chef of the year a couple of years ago
• Sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks are banned and increasingly school meals are the default option - served at shared
tables with staff and pupils eating together.

Durand Academy

• Nearly half of children at Durand currently receive Free School Meals.
• Durand’s Executive Head, Greg Martin, firmly believes in healthy body, healthy mind.
• Every child that attends Durand receives at least one homemade and wholesome meal each day, with the school kitchen
sourcing where possible only organic or farm assured food .
• No junk food or sweets are allowed in lunch boxes.
• Schools meals are prepared fresh, on site every day, and alongside the hot option there is a salad bar and fresh fruit.

Speaking about the food that is served at Durand, Greg Martin said:

“At Durand we have always been passionate about the importance of providing the children with high quality fresh food
every day. We are firm believers that a healthy body is the first step to having a healthy mind, and we will be
continuing this philosophy when we open our new secondary school in West Sussex.

“Lunch time is a crucial part of the school day and we want to instil in the children a habit of healthy eating that they
will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Harris Academies

Harris contract out all of their catering to a company called Sodexo.

• The Harris contract with Sodexo provides catering that meets all Government guidelines
• The Harris Federation puts in a significant sum of money into catering at its academies – so the spend is well above
the funding for food normally received from government.
• Last year, with 9 academies, the Federation put in an extra £117,000.
• This allows the Academies to provide students with more variety and better food .
• The Harris Academy Bermondsey chooses to use no frozen meat – all meat they use is fresh.
ULT

• None of their Academies have vending machines that can be used during the school day or sell confectionary on-site
(some vending machines may have confectionary but these are timed machines that cannot be accessed during school
opening.)

Folkestone Academy

• The SFT has highlighted their excellence in consulting with pupils on what would appeal to them on a healthy menu.
• They have themed days; a stay on site policy and a deal with the local McDonalds to avoid children being served there
during the day.

Petchey Academy, London

• Packed lunches are banned and all children have to have school meals.
• The SFT has highlighted their innovation at lunchtime - all children have to have a school lunch, children serve each
other and clear away.
• They sit in house groups so that all different ages of pupil mix – the head believes that the teachers should be an
integral part of the family service too.

 

Leicester academy head teacher tells Jamie 'Come and try our food' 

[5]http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/Le...

 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An academy head teacher has invited celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to inspect her school's dinners.

It comes after the TV chef's stinging attack on Education Secretary Michael Gove's flagship academy programme.

Mr Oliver claimed the schools were lowering nutrition levels among pupils and profiteering from junk food vending
machines.

But Pat Dubas, head of Samworth Academy, in Eyres Monsell, Leicester, has hit back. She said: "We have followed the
Government's nutritional standards from the start. In fact, we've made even greater efforts to make sure that the food is
healthy and of good quality because we know how important that is.

"We're going to ask Jamie Oliver if he wants to come and see for himself what we're doing here."

About 80 per cent of Samworth Enterprise Academy's 1,000 pupils eat school dinners.

Mr Oliver's campaign for healthier school dinners led to the introduction of nutritional standards by the last
Government.

He said that progress made in recent years risked being undone by academies, which do not have to follow the rules.

However, Mrs Dubas said: "There seems to be a presumption that just because academies don't have to follow the
guidelines, they won't. Inevitably, there may be some that choose not to but that's not the case here.

"We have our own caterers on site and the food is as fresh as it's possible to be and monitored for nutritional value."

Pupils said they loved the food.

Jade Chambers, 11, said: "I like the school dinners here. They're very filling and they taste good."

Carmel Tuckley, 12, said: "There's lots to choose from and the roast dinners are really nice."

Rene Mohamed, 11, said: "My favourite is lasagne and there's always loads to choose from."

In an interview in the Observer Food Monthly on Sunday, Mr Oliver said he was "totally mystified" as to why academies are
allowed to determine what food should be on offer, while state schools follow the national standards introduced in 2008.

Kathryn McGovern, head of Meadow Community Primary in Wigston Magna, which officially becomes an academy on June 1, said:
"We'll be staying with Leicestershire's School Food Support Service and adhering to nutritional standards as we always
have done.

"Schools have a vested interest in making sure children eat well and maintain their concentration levels and we still
have to go through the same Ofsted regime and will be questioned about obesity and pupils' health.

"It just wouldn't be sensible to change what we've been doing."

Tony Smith, head of Dorothy Goodman School, in Hinckley, which becomes an academy in June, said: "We'll be maintaining
our nutritional standards as an academy."

A Department for Education spokesman said it trusted schools to act in pupils' best interests.

REVIEW: Education reporter Fiona Dryden tries out the Samworth Academy food

Having tasted a dozen or so school dinners over the past couple of years, I can genuinely say Samworth’s tops the list as
the best I have ever had.

I visited the school yesterday, when the menu included chicken pie, root vegetable pie, shepherd’s pie and a roast
chicken dinner. I opted to try a bit of everything – for research purposes, of course – and I wasn’t disappointed.

The food is hearty, well cooked and perfectly seasoned.

The chicken pie was packed with meat and topped with a delicious pastry crust, while the root vegetable option was also
full of flavour.

Food is cooked on site every day, using fresh ingredients which are locally sourced where possible.

A salad bar and jacket potatoes are always on offer, as well as soup.

Desserts include a hot option such as apple pie and custard but there is also an abundance of fruit salads as well as
apples, bananas and oranges to munch on.

My opinion? There really isn’t anything for Jamie to be worried about.

 
 

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.education.gov.uk/
2. http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/school...
3. http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/downlo...
4. http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/partne...
5. http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/Le...

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J Downs left an annotation (30 May 2012)

Quote-marks The small sample of academies in the evidence above was obviously chosen because they complied with the food standards. The School Food Trust found that academies nominated by the DfE were the most likely to be compliant with the standards when compared with both secondary schools in the food study and randomly-selected academies, except for salt. However, none of the differences between school groups reached statistical significance, and the Trust concluded that academies are no better at meeting food-based standards at lunchtime than other schools. At morning break, however, the schools in the secondary school food study were more likely to be complaint with the standards than the DfE nominated academies. The Trust found that compliance to the standards in academies was statistically significantly worse at morning break than in the average for secondary schools for English and 2010-11. Only for water at morning break were academies more likely to be compliant.

The Trust concluded that "while some academies are making good efforts to maintain compliance with some of the food-based standards, others are doing no better (and in many instances worse) than secondary schools nationally."

So when Mr Gove said that the evidence showed that "schools that have academy freedoms have improved the quality of food they offer" he really meant "a carefully-selected group of academies have improved the quality of food."

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