From September, Ofsted inspections will look for evidence of “a culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating, in classrooms as well as the school canteen”.
The move comes after the publication of new School Food Standards in January and the introduction of compulsory practical cookery to the national curriculum.
The new Ofsted focus falls under the personal development, behaviour and welfare judgement and means that schools might be expected to explain how they monitor and evaluate food education. Inspectors may assess the atmosphere and culture of the dining space and may ask whether the school governor responsible for healthy eating can provide evidence of compliance with the School Food Standards.
In light of the announcement last week, schools are being reminded that they can still access free support through a government-funded programme aimed at driving school meal take-up.
However, funding runs out at the end of this school year so schools are urged to sign up quickly.
The package offers training and support for school leaders, caterers and school cooks, practical resources, a tailored action plan, and support from specialists.
Schools in the North of England, the Midlands and London can apply for this support via the Food for Life Partnership. While schools in the South East, South West and East of England can apply via the Children’s Food Trust.
The Food for Life Partnership also runs the Food for Life Schools Award, which provides a framework for using food to improve the whole-school experience.
Joanna Lewis, strategy and policy director at the Food for Life Partnership, said: “A whole school approach is the most effective way of establishing a culture of healthy eating. Funded support runs out at the end of the school year and our advice to schools is to sign up urgently so they don’t miss this golden opportunity.”
For details, visit www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk/schoolfoodplan/schoolmealscount or www.foodforlife.org.uk/school-food-plan/increase-your-school-meal-take-up