Advice to Cut Students’ Lunch Portions Defended by DfE

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In a response to the Commons Education Select Committee’s report from July, the Department for Education defended advice from school management resource advisers, or SMRAs, who recommended that

one school cut pupils’ portion sizes to save funds, as well as suggesting that admin staff contracts be reduced to less than 52 weeks per year.

Referring to the MPs’ description of ‘disturbing
reports’ that the DfE was spending millions on SMRAs, with suggestions including ‘cutting children’s food portions’, the department stood by the suggestion to limit portion sizes at Chapeltown Academy Trust in Sheffield.

‘The recommendation around reducing lunch portions was made after the SRMA reviewed the trust’s catering with the business manager and found a large amount of food waste,’ the Department for Education said.

‘A number of recommendations were put forward to help reduce food waste, including monitoring portion sizes more closely or providing catering to the local business park to generate income.

‘These recommendations were intended to support the trust to make best use of their catering facilities rather than make savings.’

The academy trust informed the government that the cost-cutting programme had been ‘invaluable’, allowing it to provide more classes in popular subjects as a result of savings made through the scheme, the DfE said.

The government also defended a SMRA suggestion to Stratton Upper School, in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, to reduce 52-week contracts for administrative staff, which

was ‘ in the context of the school’s high administration costs when compared to similar schools’.

 

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