Campaigners want healthy schools rating scheme back on agenda


Numerous food campaigners have called on the government to deliver proposals for a healthy schools rating scheme, amid concerns it is not being prioritised.

Charity School Food Matters, along with leading chef Jamie Oliver and a number of other organisations have said that the Department for Education must put children’s health and wellbeing back on the agenda.

The health schools rating scheme first appeared in the childhood obesity plan from 2016 and was intended to focus on what schools can do to help children to stay healthy.

However, little action on the plan has taken place since, which has led to new calls for it to be implemented.

School Food Matters quizzed just under one thousand parents, teachers and governors on the scheme and its implementation, and has outlined its findings in a new report that calls for action.

Stephanie Wood, the founder of the charity, revealed that the survey was used to back up a hypothesis relating to the rating scheme.

“Quite simply, we conducted this research to tell us what we, as school food campaigners, already know: that the health schools rating scheme is needed to help schools keep good food on the menu,” she explained.

Of those surveyed, 97% were supportive of the healthy schools rating scheme and 85% said it should be compulsory for all schools.

Around three quarters of people said that Ofsted should monitor the scheme too, while School Food Matters has now called for the Department for Education to take action.

Ms Wood called it a “unique opportunity” to “model good eating habits” and teach children how to stay healthy.

“The DfE must act now and use the healthy schools rating scheme, together with the new Ofsted framework, to make sure we’re making the most of this opportunity,” she added.

A DfE spokesperson said work is ongoing to ensure that the scheme “is effective in every school” and that health education will be introduced to schools from 2020.

“We are committed to delivering a healthy schools rating scheme, which will recognise and encourage schools’ contributions to preventing obesity by helping children to eat better and move more,” they added.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is among the advocates of the scheme, as well as Action on Sugar and the Children’s Food Campaign.