This week is National School Meals Week and all week we’ll be looking at what’s served up in our schools, what the pupils think and what the future holds. To begin with BEREN CROSS visited Bridlewood Primary School, where the meals are cooked on-site HEADTEACHER Jo Garton was so keen to make sure her pupils ate a healthy meal each day she decided to get them cooked on site.

Now around 100 of the 260 pupils at Bridlewood Primary School in Haydon Wick tuck into food cooked on the premises – with vegetables from its own garden on the menu.

National School Meals Week began yesterday, with schools across the nation hoping to provide one free meal before the weekend, though Bridlewood has not signed up.

The success of the school’s own project means the national initiative is not a priority for them.

Jo said: “Some children do have dinners every day and they’re not necessarily all children on free school meals. There are actually more children who take up school meals whose parents both work, which makes school meals the easier option.”

The school charges £2.10 per day for one meal per child, a rate which has recently gone up, but one which isn’t a problem for parents according to Jo.

Many parents have been inspired by the televised work of Jamie Oliver, who has made it his mission to improve school dinners, and as a result, the wellbeing of school pupils.

“It’s really important that they get the proper nutrition, because without that they can’t possibly concentrate and learn,” said Jo.

The school has even taken its lunch hour as an opportunity to stimulate better behaviour in the classroom with a top table in the main hall, which is covered with a table cloth and adorned with fine china.

Those pupils with the best behaviour each week are rewarded with a spot on the table with Jo, for the rest of the school to see.

The focus on maximising that time for the pupils is behind the decision to make the lunch service more accountable and flexible to meet the children’s needs.

“We wanted to make sure the service was more responsive and answerable to the consumers,” said Jo.

“Now, Mrs Webb, the chief cook comes out most lunchtimes, talks to the children and asks them what they think of the food.

“She’s getting the feedback every day.

“It is much more responsive than when we had an external contractor.”