A primary school headteacher has issued an open invitation to deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to see the success of their school meals initiative which has been rolled out across the country.
Headteacher Helen Ridge at Hempshill Hall Primary School, near Nuthall, explained that although the Government has implemented a new school dinners initiative this year, a similar scheme has been in place at their school for 40 years.
From this September, all primary schools in the country will offer a free school meal to every child in reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes for the first time.
However, these free meals have been available at Hempshill Hall Primary since the 1970s and more than 300 hot meals are prepared and cooked daily on site in line with Government nutritional guidelines.
Mrs Ridge said: “At Hempshill we have been ahead of the game for many years and Mr Clegg’s progressive ‘new’ changes are nothing new at all.
“The value of eating and sharing the same mealcommunally is deep.
“Our staff and children talk together in a settled, calm environment, where good table manners are instilled and even the fussiest children are keen to eat alongside their friends.”
Therefore, as the schools returned for the autumn term, it was business as usual for children at Hempshill Hall with the head and staff sitting down together with the pupils to a home cooked “family-style” lunch every day.
It is hoped that the new nationwide scheme will benefit thousands of families who have struggled to pay for lunches during the recession, and will make children more productive as they have nutritional meals.
As this similar scheme has been so successful, Mrs Ridge would like to invite Mr Clegg to visit the school to see what effect the national scheme could have on other schools in the future.
She said: “We have a terrific team in our kitchen and the choice of meals is admirable.
“Come and join us sometime Mr.Clegg and you will be pleasantly surprised at what you see.”
Hempshill was built in 1973 as a semi-open plan-style school with 11 ‘class bases’, large shared practical areas and an Early Years Unit.