In a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, pupils at Edgar Stammers Primary Academy are currently having lunch delivered to them in the classroom to ensure they do not mix with children from other bubbles. A ‘reduced’ menu is being offered, consisting of ‘finger food’. However parents were unhappy to discover youngsters at the school in Harden Road, Coalpool, had been expected to eat ‘a small amount of mash served in a Yorkshire pudding’ without cutlery. One parent, who did not wish to be named, said it was an “utter joke” – and it appears she was not the only one as headteacher Darren Mann admitted some of the feedback he’d received was ‘not positive’.
In a letter to parents, sent at the end of November, Mr Mann said he had informed the University of Wolverhampton Multi Academy Trust of the desire to bring back cutlery ‘as soon as possible’.
He said: “As parents know, we have been trying to increase the amount of hot food in the menu, but with the restriction of it being classed as finger food.
“Today, as part of the lunch, we had a small amount of mash that was served in a Yorkshire pudding to enable the children to pick it up and eat together. Unfortunately, the feedback from this from some parents and children has not been positive.
“We’d like to thank these parents and children for their feedback and we realise that it hasn’t worked today. We will look to adapt the menu again to try and make it better and easier for the children.
“I have also informed our academy trust of our desire to start using cutlery as soon as possible. As soon as it is deemed safe under their Covid restrictions, we will let all parents and children know.”
Professor Michelle Shaw, CEO at University of Wolverhampton Multi Academy Trust, told the Birmingham Mail picnic lunches were being served in brown bags as plates, hot food and utensils ‘could not be transported around schools safely’.
She said pupils washed their hands before and after meals and the use of ‘hard utensils which may spread the virus’ had been limited.
“All our school leaders work very closely with their catering teams to continue to provide hot meals for our children throughout the pandemic,” she said.
“Arrangements at lunchtimes are in place to ensure that children do not mix with children from other bubbles, meaning that children are having their food brought to them in their areas of the school buildings instead of using school dining halls. To ensure that this is done as safely as possible, hot meals are provided in ‘grab bag’ style packaging.
“Menus are carefully planned to ensure that they comply with school food standards, including a variety of foods across each week and including daily choices of fruits and vegetables. UWMAT is fully committed to ensuring that eating in school is a pleasurable experience for all children.
“All decisions that we make are carefully considered and we highly value the views of all our school communities, encouraging our parents/carers and children to give feedback.”
She continued: “With health and safety as the priority in all our schools, all of our Covid risk assessments are reviewed regularly and procedures are updated accordingly.
“Our schools have increased hygiene measures throughout the day and pupils wash their hands before and after meals. We have ensured that we keep our children safe by limiting the use of hard utensils which may spread the virus, and continue to monitor the situation following all available guidance.
“We cannot transport plates, hot food and utensils around schools safely, as some have steps, nor can we keep that food at the required temperatures to serve it. Therefore we have chosen to provide brown bag, picnic lunches in classrooms. These consist of healthy choices, devised with our caterers.
“We have risk assessed all of our Covid practices using an external health and safety specialist company and our practices are robust.”