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Fruit pips crisps in health food battle

A SCHOOL which banned crisps from its tuckshop has seen a dramatic improvement in pupil behaviour and academic results, writes Jon Slater.

Wolsey junior school in Croydon, south London, introduced its "healthy tuckshop" initiative four years ago in conjunction with Croydon Community Health Trust.

After banning junk food and replacing it with fresh fruit, attendance at the school has risen from 80 per cent in 1996 to 92 per cent and results in key stage 2 tests have also improved.

The school is currently being considered as a possible venue for the launch of the Government's new nutritional guidelines which will be published in the summer.

Despite anticipating a backlash against its food values, the school received no complaints. Indeed, the change has been such a success that the fruit-only tuckshop is now self-financing.

Headteacher Peter Winder is delighted. "Previously teachers were spending two hours a day onconflict resolution. Now that junk food has been removed children are calmer, their attention span is greater and therefore attainment has risen."

The school has also opened a breakfast club, which as well as providing a healthy start to the day probably means one less chore for many of Wolsey's children.

Research by the Health Education Authority shows that almost two-thirds of England's seven to 11-year-olds prepare their own breakfast - with similar numbers making a cooked evening meal.

This has caused concern at the HEA which has produced a teaching pack on the dangers of food poisoning can be ordered through

www.foodhygienecontrol.hea.org.uk

Wynnie Chan, a nutritionist at the British Nutrition Foundation said: "Diet can play a part in terms of children's concentration but most of the evidence is anecdotal. I would like to see more research into the link between nutrition and children's behaviour."

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