School dinners could have an entirely different meaning, if David Moran has his way.
The chief executive of the E-Act multi-academy trust (MAT) says that he would like to see his schools offering evening meals to pupils, as well as breakfasts.
The proposal is part of a plan to raise £1million from private sponsors to provide a broader offering than the trust could otherwise afford.
“We start talking about breakfast,” he told Tes. “Well, what about dinner? How many of our children sit around a table at night and have dinner? Have a proper dinner. Is that something we should be doing?”
While the priority would be to offer this service to children receiving free school meals, most of E-Act’s academies serve disadvantaged communities, and he would not like to see any child excluded.
The proposal is still in its very early stages, but forms part of Mr Moran’s aim for his academies to cater to pupils’ extracurricular, as well as academic needs.
“I do have a vision that all of our schools will be open from 7.30am to 7.30pm,” he said.
E-Act is made up of a group of 25 academies, clustered in London, the Midlands, the North, the South-West and Daventry.
Mr Moran is in the process of developing a central fund to provide opportunities for children who would not be able to afford them otherwise. For example, when a pupil in Sheffield was selected to play for the Manchester United youth team, the fund paid for football boots, practice kit and train fare to Manchester.
"Previously, that would have come out of teachers’ pockets, that would have come out of the head’s pocket," he said.
This fund will also be used to finance an idea that he is calling the E-Act passport. The aim of this programme is to provide pupils with a broader, non-academic education: it will include activities such as visiting a library, visiting a Russell Group university, and going to the theatre. E-Act is also in the process of developing a mental-health curriculum, to run in all its academies.
So far, Moran has raised £20,000 for extracurricular projects, by seeking external sponsorship from companies including Capita, HSBC and S P Financials. The aim is to bring this figure up to £1 million this year. (He has said that he will consider each sponsor on a case-by-case basis: “Nothing which would compromise our values.”)
“Our children, more than anyone, they have these glass ceilings,” he said. “So we’ve got to teach our children to think big for themselves, and we’ve got to teach all of the adults who work with them to think big for themselves, but also for the children.
“That’s the core of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it – to make our schools great schools for the kids, so they get the best-possible outcomes.”
This is an edited article from the 3 November edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook