School food left behind

What 90% of secondary schools still need to learn

Isn’t there such a lot of negative opinion these days about the quality of education provision in secondary schools? My day-to-day work puts me in close contact with schools, and I know for a fact that in so many ways, today’s students get a much better deal academically than we ever did.

This was brought home to me during a recent meeting with a Head Teacher. While we were talking I noticed a large chart on the wall of his office; a diagram with 3 intersecting circles and student names in the different areas. Apparently, this was to help his teaching staff identify students who were – or were not – on course to achieve A-C grades in the core curriculum areas.

It made me think about how outcomes are managed now compared with when I was at school. Things were much more basic in my time; we had our mock exams, we got our predicted grades, then we did the real exams. Some of us did slightly better than predicted, some did slightly worse. But that was it. There was no active management of our results.

This wall chart told me so much. It was like the school was convening the war-room; developing strategies aimed at improving people’s futures.

This pro-active management of grades is much more in line with running a business. And as with any good business, you look at poor performance areas, and you focus on making them better. What this means is that the school truly does provide education for all, not just those predestined to succeed.

And so I ask – why on earth is this managed approach not being applied to school food across the board?

Better eating contributes massively to improved school achievement and the future well-being of young people – this is a thoroughly-researched, well-documented fact. But 90% of schools are still overlooking it!

Many schools still offer a rubbish product and hold up their hands in horror when the punters do not buy. Typical uptake of free school meal entitlement is around 50%. So what about the other half? Why are they still staying away? It’s not about the price. If it was, the uptake would be around 100%.

At Cucina we actively manage the uptake of healthy school food, which is how we achieve an average 60% uptake across all our schools against a national average of 35%.

We adopt a retail mentality; school students are our customers and we are there to serve their requirements. We provide an attractive environment, a range of attractive choices, fast, efficient service and food that is delicious.

In the old days of secondary education, academic results were hit-and-miss. Just about everything depended on the calibre of the student and the calibre of the teacher. If you had a good Maths department, for example, you got better average results in Maths. With school dinners it was also the luck of the draw. You waited at the serving hatch, the bell went, and you got choice A or choice B.

Academically, a revolution has taken place; results are carefully managed, and students reap the benefit.

It’s high time school food caught up.

Till next time,


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