A good school food culture can help your Ofsted inspection

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From September 2015, Ofsted inspectors will look for evidence of a culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating during their inspection of schools and early years settings as part of the new Common Inspection Framework and will report on the personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils.

Key issues

  • School meals now form part of the Ofsted inspection regime
  • Headteachers and governors are required to actively encourage healthy eating
  • The school canteen will be visited as part of the inspection visit.  They will look at the food on offer, the atmosphere and culture in the dining space and the effect this has on pupils’ behaviour.

With the integration of the School Food Plan within the school curriculum, questions remained over the importance of the arrangements for school meals.  No formal inspection regime accompanied the plan, leaving many to question how strictly aspects such as food standards would be adhered to.  As the inspecting body, Ofsted issued guidance but this was subsequently withdrawn.  Inspectors were deemed not to be food experts and therefore not capable of making an informed judgement on the meals served.

Recent developments
Following intervention by Sharon Hodgson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on School Food, Ofsted has reviewed the position and are adopting a more rigorous approach (see attached letter here).  The New Inspection Framework from September 2015 will require inspectors to “look for evidence of the culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating throughout their entire inspection visit, in classrooms as well as in the school canteen. They will look at the food on offer and visit the canteen to see the atmosphere and culture in the dining space and the effect it has on pupils’ behaviour”. Furthermore Ofsted is providing training to inspectors on how to ensure that this aspect is properly inspected and healthy eating is effective.

The enhanced status of the school meals' contribution to pupils' wellbeing, health and healthy eating within the Ofsted inspection regime means that it is possible that a school that undervalues the lunchtime meal service will harm its chances of obtaining a top rated Ofsted classification.

A range of support to help schools in the management of their responsibility for Food in School is available.

For those schools where meals are provided by Bradford Council’s in-house catering provider, Facilities Management, support is available to improve school food provision, school food policy and food education. For details, please contact your FM account co-ordinator.


Published: 29/06/2015
Audience: Head Teachers, Business Managers and Chairs of Governors
Contact: Roger Sheard

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