Healthy eating put firmly on the plate by Ofsted

Ofsted has formally included healthy eating and knowledge of how to eat healthily in its Common Inspection Framework.

The Food for Life Partnership welcomes the commitment to children’s health it will bring about and reiterates its ongoing support for schools which can help with Ofsted inspections.

Head teachers and caterers are already working hard to make sure their students eat well and learn about food – new school food standards were introduced in January of this year, and practical cookery has been made compulsory in the national curriculum.

Now Ofsted has gone further in its announcement that from September, the ability of pupils to “make informed choices about healthy eating” will form part of a judgment under personal development, behaviour and welfare.

The announcement follows a letter sent to the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food in February, in which Ofsted highlighted that they would be placing a renewed emphasis on school food, adding that “inspectors will look for evidence of a culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating throughout the entire inspection visit, in classrooms as well as in the school canteen.”

“A culture” of “healthy eating” goes beyond the food on the plate. Head teachers may be expected to explain how they monitor and evaluate food education, and asked whether students and parents are consulted in the development of menus. 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.

Schools looking to build and evidence this positive food culture can get free support through the Food for Life Partnership. The Department for Education has provided time-limited funding to boost school meal take-up through a number of packages that can also support school leaders to prepare for Ofsted inspection. Increase Your School Meal Take Up (IYSMTU) is being delivered by the Food for Life Partnership, whose tailored support package is worth up to £2,000.  Junior and secondary schools have until the end of the summer term to register and can sign up at

There is additional support available through the Food for Life Schools Award, which provides a framework for head teachers to use food as a way to improve the whole school experience.

Joanna Lewis, Strategy & Policy Director of Food for Life said: ‘Healthy eating has been put firmly on the plate of head teachers, caterers and governors and the Food for Life Partnership can provide expert support.”

Led by the Soil Association, The Food for Life Partnership has created a network of thousands of schools and communities across England committed to transforming their food culture. In addition to their work for the Department for Education, they run a successful, national award programme that provides a framework for schools to provide fresh, well-sourced and nutritious meals and improve their overall lunchtime experience.  It helps children, adults and teachers understand the importance of good nutrition and where their food comes from through practical cooking and growing activities and farm visits.

All images credit: Food for Life Partnership 

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