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Make sure you fill in our packed lunch survey

11 October 2017 by Catherine Gaunt

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The 30 hours could well have an impact on the quality of food for young children

An uninspiring white bread sandwich, a packet of crisps, and a fizzy drink conjure up a rather depressing image. But is this what a typical packed lunch looks like for nursery-age children?

Whether you are a nursery, childminder, or school, we want to know how many settings and children are using meals brought from home, and what you are doing to make sure these are as healthy as possible.

And with the advent of the 30 hours of funded childcare packed lunches look likely to become more common, as parents opt out of paying for extras, such as meals.

When Nursery World and the Children’s Food Trust carried out a survey in 2015, we found that just under a third of settings  were planning to ask parents to provide packed lunches once the 30 hours came in.

‘Children from the poorest families are likely to be the worst affected,’ says Dr Patricia Lucas, a reader in child health research, from the University of Bristol, who is carrying out the research.

‘Settings supporting these children are faced with the choice of continuing to provide meals from within their limited budgets, charging parents for food or asking them to provide packed lunches for their children - so incurring costs that many families can ill afford.

‘Whatever option they choose, the quality of children’s diet is likely to be compromised, and there is a potential for health inequalities to increase.’

A survey carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol two years ago with the help of students from Bristol City College found that a typical lunch for a child in a group care setting did indeed include a white bread cheese sandwich, potato snacks, and a sweetened yoghurt.

But is this the case nationwide? Let us know how typical these findings are by taking part in our survey.

We are particularly keen to know why you might be choosing to use packed lunches for some or all of your children, and to hear from childminders.


Funding plan will hit poor pupils hardest - campaigners

By Judith BurnsEducation reporter

3 March 2017

From the section Education & Family


Boy with abacus​​​​​​​

Schools in England with the highest numbers of disadvantaged children will be hit hardest by government plans to change funding, say campaigners.

Schools where over 40% of pupils are eligible for free meals will lose most, say National Union of Teachers and Child Poverty Action Group researchers. 

Ministers should rethink the national funding formula, which is due to begin in 2018-19, they say. 

The government says the proposals will end a "postcode lottery" in funding. 

The plans, announced late last year, will change the way that per pupil funding for schools is allocated and will mean a cash boost for more than half of schools, according to the government. 

The aim is to stop inequalities that see schools in different parts of England, with similar intakes, receive different levels of per-pupil budget, say ministers. 

But the overall budget will not increase, and education unions have already complained the proposals mean most schools will lose out, against a background of flat-lining budgets not keeping pace with costs. 

Calculations, published in January by an alliance of six unions representing school staff, suggested that 98% of schools faced "a real terms funding cut for every pupil". 

The six unions - the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the National Association of Head Teachers, Unison, Unite and the GMB, said this would mean an average annual loss of £339 for every primary pupil and £477 for every secondary pupil. 

The new analysis compares the predicted funding changes for schools generally with those for 997 schools with more than 40% of pupils on free school meals. 

The figures suggest that funding for these schools would fall:

  • at primary level by £473 per pupil in real terms - £140 more than the average
  • at secondary level by £803 per pupil in real terms - £326 more than the average

Cash and spread sheetImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionSchools say they are already having to cut provision to balance the books

'Privileged few'

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham called the figures "shocking". 

"If the country - and our education system - is to work for everyone, not just the privileged few, ministers must reconsider the school funding formula," she said.

"Poverty at home is the strongest statistical predictor of how well a child will do at school, [but] schools and teachers can help to weaken that link if they have sufficient resources." 

Ms Garnham said funding cuts in the poorest areas would set children up to fail. 

"In the context of the prime minister's social justice agenda, that outcome looks perverse," she added. 

NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney said it was disturbing that children in most need were in the worst affected schools. 

By failing to fund the poorest children's schools properly, the government would be "seriously threatening their life chances", he said. 

"Justine Greening must listen to the many voices that are saying her funding proposals are unfair in the extreme and in need of a complete rethink," said Mr Courtney. 

But a Department for Education spokeswoman called the analysis "fundamentally misleading". 

"Our proposed new funding formula recognises educational disadvantage in its widest sense, including pupils who do not necessarily benefit from the pupil premium but whose families may be only just about managing," she said.

"It also increases the total funding directed specifically to deprived pupils to £3bn.

"The union's figures ignore the fact that school funding is driven by pupil numbers, and as pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will also increase."

Hounslow Council is calling on the government to protect funding for schools in Hounslow and across London.

Published: Monday, 6th February 2017

Image of primary school children.

Hounslow Council is calling on the government to protect funding for schools in Hounslow and across London, following a consultation that proposes to reduce budgets for a number of schools in the capital.

The second stage of the school’s National Funding Formula [NFF] has been published stating that there will be a redistribution of current money, which for London schools means an increase in some schools’ budgets, with others seeing their budgets severely reduced.

Hounslow Council supports the London Councils response to the NFF that makes the case for additional funding for the schools that stand to gain through the NFF school allocations, without taking money away from other schools (this would cost the Government £335m per annum).

At the recent Borough Council meeting at the end of January, Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, Hounslow Council, proposed a motion which was successfully passed, asking that the government look to protect the valuable funding that Hounslow schools receive so that they can continue to provide a high standard of education for all pupils.

Councillor Bruce said: “The success of Hounslow schools is under threat from more budget cuts, as central government go to the next stage of a consultation into proposals to recalculate the national formula under which schools are funded.

“In the proposals, Hounslow stands to receive on average £462 less in spending per pupil each year, as a result of the government’s formula changes. 

“I am deeply concerned that any further cuts to already depleted schools budgets could threaten the huge improvements in education standards that we have seen throughout Hounslow, particularly in the last two years where we’ve made tremendous strides, especially at Primary level"

“We are very fortunate here in Hounslow to have so many excellent schools providing high quality education. It’s  important  we work closely with those schools, governors and parents to fight these proposals and the adverse impact they would have on the lives of our children and young people.”

“We are committed to giving every child in the borough the best start in life possible and that includes providing the high standard of education they deserve.”

Concerns have also been voiced by the borough’s schools on the implications more cuts to funding will mean for them.

Chris Hill, headteacher of Hounslow Town Primary School, Pears Road, Hounslow, said: “The proposed changes to funding will make it virtually impossible for schools in Hounslow to sustain what they are currently doing, let alone be able to make improvements for the future.

“After several years already of budgets being squeezed and savings made, schools will not be able to absorb further cuts. 

“All headteachers in Hounslow want to provide the highest quality of provision in their schools. Further savings required will mean for most schools, a reduction in staffing leading to a potential negative impact on the standard of learning for pupils.”

  • Grove Road Primary School,
  • Cromwell Road,
  • Hounslow, Middlesex, TW3 3QQ