Schools ‘not a silver bullet’ to tackling childhood obesity

Ofsted schools childhood obesity
19/07/2018 - 09:21
Ofsted has released a report on obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in primary schools, but has urged lobby groups not to see schools as a ‘silver bullet’ to tackling childhood obesity.

Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Obesity is a serious public health challenge with wide-ranging and deep-rooted effects. Schools have an important role to play in the fight against childhood obesity.

“A broad curriculum, which emphasises healthy lifestyles and high quality PE is vital to this, but is too often given insufficient focus.

“We must also recognise that schools cannot provide a silver bullet for all societal ills. Teachers and school leaders are already stretched; they should not be held responsible for an issue that requires concerted action across the board.

“Families, government, industry, and other parts of the public sector all have a role to play in making food and drink healthier, and supporting children to make better choices.”

UK school meals organisation LACA (Lead Association for CAtering in Education) has issued a statement welcoming the recognition of the economic benefits to schools of high take-up of school meals.

It reads: “We are pleased that Ofsted confirms what previous academic research has found – namely that the best school leaders are going above and beyond to implement the school food standards.

“As this report outlines, UIFSM (universal infant free school meals) in particular saves parents money while providing a hot and healthy meal to children and we agree that as many parents as possible should be encouraged to take this up.

“LACA has long-called for Ofsted inspections to include an evaluation of school food and dining rooms in addition to the educational assessment and will continue to do so.

“We remain concerned that the whole school approach to nutrition in schools as set out in the government’s own School Food Plan is not being reinforced in this report, LACA will continue to campaign to ensure that actions from the Plan are implemented.”

Last year the inspectorate carried out research to understand whether schools are demonstrably having an impact on levels of childhood obesity, and if there is any good practice out there from which other schools can learn.

Inspectors visited 60 schools around the country, and found that most have responded well to government initiatives, including expectations around physical activity and healthy eating.

But the report says it was not clear that the specific interventions that schools make could, by themselves, overcome other factors that affect the weight of their pupils.

You can download and read the full report here:

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