'Food in School and the Teaching of Food’, suggests Ofsted inspect food and nutrition in nurseries at regular intervals in a bid to reduce childhood obesity and promote health. The inspection process would be carried out by registered public health nutritionists or dieticians.
Written by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on A Fit and Healthy Childhood, the report argues that the Government has a 'significant opportunity' to help schools and families to give their children a better start in life 'to the economic and social benefit of the entire community'.
The authors of the report include academics, nutrition experts and food manufacturers and suppliers including Quorn Foods Ltd and Brakes.
The report also recommends:
- More national evidence about the provision of food and drink in early years settings is gathered as an integral component of the EYFS;
- A new specific nutritional standard for the Early Years Teacher qualification is introduced;
- That early years workers are given training to enable them to help families providechildren with appropriate evidence-based food and nutrition advice;
- Early Childhood nutrition indicators are embedded into key developmental checks.
There should also be a national audit of the free school meals scheme to ensure parity of funding and nutritional quality across the country. It also says the School Food Standards should be made mandatory for all schools. Currently they only apply to maintained schools and new academies.
On ‘Nutrition, movement and play’, the report recommends learning about play be a core part of training for all education professionals working with children in pre and primary school settings. Also, for play to be embedded in the National Curriculum at Key Stages 1 and 2, and the school day to be re-structured for Key Stage 1 pupils in line with the Finnish model. In Finland, children commonly only attend school for five hours a day.
Sharon Smith, senior lecturer in child health and early years at the University of Northampton and a member of the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood, said, 'Evidence based food and nutrition advice should be integral to all early years qualifications and degree courses. All early years students at the University of Northampton study a child health module which incorporates a holistic approach to child health including nutrition.
'Establishing good eating patterns in the early years has a positive and long-term impact on later health outcomes – early years settings are a hub of opportunity to provide this!'