Northampton primary school praised for ‘transforming’ lunchtimes and improving the whole day as a result
and live on Freeview channel 276
A Northampton primary school has been praised for “transforming” lunchtimes and improving the entire school day as a result.
School Health UK wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight Abington Vale Primary School, which has “worked so hard” in recent months to make improvements.
The school has been successful in taking lunchtimes from being a typically busy and rushed period, to one that prioritises positive relationships and acts as “the hub of the day”.
Pupils now have protected time to enjoy socialising and eating healthy foods around a table together, enabling them to build relationships with their peers and positive habits around food.
They also now have the opportunity to engage in a variety of physical activities, as well as a nurturing and calm space for them to chill out if that is what they would prefer.
Paul Evans, operations director at School Health UK, spoke to this newspaper to explain what their nationwide ‘Better Lunchtimes Mark’ is all about.
“We work with schools across the country to ensure lunchtimes are the best they can be,” said Paul. “We want to improve the overall experience and make sure pupils are eating well-balanced lunches.
“We find pupils rush their food to be able to play, as they don’t have the protected time to eat it.”
The operations director shared that across the country, lunchtimes are “typically disorganised and messy” – and it is important to provide an optimum eating and socialising experience for students.
What School Health UK do – and did with Abington Vale Primary School – is visit, review what is currently happening at lunchtimes, and tidy up the experience by considering time and capacity.
This way, behaviour is improved, everyone is happier and the whole school day benefits.
Paul shared that both of Abington Vale Primary’s school sites underwent their review.
He said: “We are so proud of them and the hard work they have put in. We have given them the resources but they did the hard work.”
The dining spaces were described to now be “more settled”, with pupils taking the opportunity to socialise, serve themselves food, and sit down like adults to enjoy the “protected time” to eat.
“It’s not rushed or noisy,” said Paul. “And the playgrounds have improved.”
Play time is now much more “organised and structured”, while being led by how the students want to spend their free time.
“Staff are happier, behaviour has improved and children enjoy lunchtimes more,” said Paul. “It has made a positive difference to the overall wellbeing of students and their healthy food habits.”
When asked what other schools can learn from the changes Abington Vale Primary has made, Paul said the first step is recognising if lunchtimes are the most unstructured part of the school day.
He added: “The relationships we’re teaching pupils around food and social environments are long-lasting.”