‘Parents’ concerns over academy food standards must be listened to’

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (5th November 2012) urged Education Minister, Michael Gove, to listen to parents after a survey revealed that 92% of parents wanted the same nutrition standards for academies and free schools as those in local authority schools.

The survey was carried out for the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) and the online dinner money company ParentPay.

Tom said:
“The outcome of this survey supports concerns I raised earlier this year when my parliamentary question revealed that there were no plans to require academies and free schools to comply with nutritional standards and requirements of school food regulations. That was over four months ago and at the time I believed it was almost a reckless oversight of the Government to not have nutrition standards in place for their new academies. It is such an important issue that has a dramatic impact on the health of our young people so I urge the Government to listen to what parents are asking of them.

“There’s no good reason children in academia shouldn’t have good nutrition like those in local authority schools and it is not as if this is a particularly niche campaign. We are constantly told about the importance of children leading healthy lives and the impact of obesity, not only on the individual, but on services such as the NHS. It is simply a sign of the Government’s ‘back of a fag packet’ approach to developing policy.

“Parents have a right to know whether new academies and free schools are providing a healthy environment for their children. If the Government are unwilling to provide standard regulations for all then I would hope academies and free schools would either take it upon themselves to impose nutritional standards or, at the very least, work with the local authorities to help meet minimum nutrition standards. Therefore, I will be writing to head teachers at academies in both boroughs of my constituency asking what standards are in place and, if not, whether they can work with the local authority to develop regulations.”

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