Free school meals top of the agenda

Karen Collett, headteacher at Haddenham St Mary's C of E Combined School
Karen Collett, headteacher at Haddenham St Mary's C of E Combined School

A Vale school is hosting a food conference to give tips and advice ahead of the return of free school meals later this year.

The conference, which is being held at Haddenham St Mary’s Church of England School on June 27 features experts including chef Raymond Blanc.

He will be joined by a panel including Juliane Noble from The Jamie Oliver Foundation and Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins.

The conference is the brainchild of headteacher Karen Collett who is passionate about ensuring children get a good meal at lunchtimes.

Mrs Collett said: “I am very pleased that the Government wants to re-introduce free school meals.

“I believe that children that eat well during the school day are more likely to achieve better academically.

“I am hoping the conference will give tips and advice on how to ensure children eat healthier and what benefits this can bring.”

The school is hoping to build a new kitchen in time for the start of the next school year, although this is set to cost £40,000.

Mrs Collett said: “So far we have raised £14,000 towards the kitchen and we are investigating the possibility of getting some more grants to help us.

“We do have a contingency plan in place if the kitchen isn’t completed in time, as some of the local pubs have offered to help out.”

The school is also launching a new food education programme to go alongside the launch of free school meals.

Mrs Collett said: “The aim of the programme is to teach the children about how they grow their own food, food preparation and healthy eating.”