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Dickens in the dining room

Unlike Oliver Twist, Scottish pupils should not be left hungry after eating a school meal. Some schools even offer second helpings (no added salt, of course), according to HMIE's report on progress towards implementing the Executive's Hungry for Success policy (page five).

Despite improvements in nutrient standards, presentation and menu balance, however, there is still too low an uptake. More worrying is the evidence that some pupils entitled to free school meals are still choosing not to have them -the stigma of FSM entitlement still lurks in some classrooms and dining halls where insufficient effort has been made to ensure anonymity. That some schools, albeit a small minority, still have the insensitivity to require children to queue separately for their tickets beggars belief.

What is clear, however, from HMIE's review, is that where schools involve pupils (and parents) in discussion about healthy eating, balanced menus and making the dining room a friendly, happy environment, then the chances of success are raised significantly. We can only hope that the momentum towards improving the school diet does not falter and that opportunities to share good practice make the isolated cases of poor practice as historic as Charles Dickens.

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