Jamie Oliver’s healthy school
Jamie Oliver’s healthy school dinners continue to boost learning, study shows Children who eat from Jamie Oliver’s diet do better in tests and are sick less often Chef Jamie Oliver giving the thumbs down to chips and fatty food as he serves up a healthy school dinner to pupils from Ealdham Primary School. Photograph: Andy Butterton/PA Jamie Oliver’s healthy school dinners continue to produce a marked improvement in national curriculum test results five years after the chef first launched his campaign, according to research. A study by academics shows children eating the healthier lunches introduced by the TV chef do far better in tests.
Absenteeism from sickness was also said to have dropped by around 14%. And it is claimed that a child eating the healthier food will earn between £2,103 and £5,476 more over their lifetimes due to their improved literacy. The research will be published in the Journal of Health Economics later this month and comes at a pivotal time. Last week the ringfencing of the school lunch grant was lifted, allowing headteachers and local authorities to divert funds once dedicated to food. The Observer revealed that 30 local authorities were set to increase prices.
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Writing in the Observer last week, Oliver likened the provision of poor quality food to child abuse. There is a direct link between a percentage point rise in prices and a corresponding reduction in the take-up of meals, according to the Schools Food Trust. Last night researcher Michele Belot of Oxford University, who undertook the analysis with Jonathan James of Essex University, said it proved the importance of good food in schools. The study examined the test results for pupils aged 11 in the 80 Greenwich schools where Oliver’s Channel 4 series launched its healthy dinners campaign.
It then compared them to children who were not served the nutritional food in neighbouring local authorities. Between 2004 and 2008, Belot found there was on average a 6% improvement in the number of pupils reaching a high level in English tests in the schools surveyed where the healthy meals were eaten and an 8% improvement in science. There was a 2% increase in the number of children reaching the basic level of attainment in science and 3% in English and maths. In addition, the number of children marked as having authorised absences for sickness since 2004 showed a 14% decrease.
The Local Authority Caterers Association said it intends to carry out its own research on school prices and lobby for headteachers to keep the cost to a child down in the coming months. Sandra Russell, the national chairman of the LACA, said: “Considerable efforts should be made to encourage headteachers and school governing bodies to channel the School Lunch Grant towards supporting the provision of school meals, as originally designated. ” http://www. guardian. co. uk/education/2011/apr/10/school-dinners-jamie-oliver