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Food for thought – Headmaster’s blog – Tuesday 5 June 2018

June 5, 2018
Food for thought

Food for thought

In my previous blog, I wrote about the importance of teaching our children to think. All too sadly, some schools in our country are struggling with even more basic needs – that of ensuring children have enough to eat for without proper nourishment learning can’t take place effectively.

Teachers providing food to their students

In an edition of First News in May, there is reference to an online survey by the Times Educational Supplement and a really shocking statistic: 90% of teachers surveyed said they had to provide food for undernourished children and the Head of a Portsmouth school was referenced as someone who sent home food parcels to his children’s families. It’s all too easy for us to feel that poorly fed children are in other countries when the reality is that too often they are not far from our own doors.

Recent national Press had an amazing series of contrasting articles on food: the Daily Mail cites a campaign for the return of Turkey Twizzlers to the school menu after Jamie Oliver’s intervention saw them banned in many schools in 2005. Much more of a concern is this from the Yorkshire Post:

The Co-op has joined forces with food banks across Yorkshire is a bid to stop 50,000 children going hungry during the summer holiday. Figures from End Child Poverty show that 50,002 children in the region are at risk of falling into “holiday hunger” this summer, when access to free school meals is removed. In response, the supermarket group is hoping to repeat the success of previous Christmas and Easter food bank campaigns, when more than 85,000 items were donated.

Food for thought at Ballard

What goes into our veggie curry for Ballard lunches

Obesity in the news again

I suppose what brought this all into such intense focus for me was a further series of articles today across all the main newspapers about the rise of obesity amongst our children. One in 25, or 4.1%, of children in England aged 10 or 11 are severely obese – compared with just 0.4% in 1990. Height and weight measurements from 2016-17 show the number of children classed as severely overweight rose from 15,000 in reception to 22,000 by the time they leave primary school. Of children in reception – aged four or five – about one in 40 (15,000), or 2.5%, was classed as severely obese, analysis of Public Health England figures by the Local Government Association, shows. The LGA said that severe child obesity rates were “contributing to a multibillion-pound ill-health time bomb”. It comes as H&M has joined retailers such as Tesco, Next and M&S in offering a plus size clothing range for children.

Ballard Student council speaks…

Food for thought

Food for thought at Ballard – what goes into our lunchtime fruit salads

So, what has all this got to do with us at Ballard?

On the one hand, it adds weight to the suggestion made in a recent pupil-led discussion in a School Council meeting that we should consider supporting ‘basic banks’ outside of the traditional Harvest Assembly time in autumn each year. Additionally, these Press articles on the rise of obesity add support to another School Council initiative – to cut down on the sugar content of our break time snacks. Vegetables, fruit, oat cakes and other healthy snacks are all the norm now (although the Friday ice creams remain as a weekly treat!). ‘Food for thought’ in more ways than one – and an encouragement for us to continue to lift our eyes above the confines of our familiar settings to see what can be done to assist others less fortunate than ourselves.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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