10th March 2000 at 00:00
AN APPLE a day keeps the doctor away - and it might now keep the inspectors at bay, too. A primary school in Croydon which banned junk food from its tuckshop and replaced it with fresh fruit has seen a dramatic improvement in behaviour and a rise in test scores (page 6).

The Government wants all schools to promote healthy eating and will introduce new rules on school meals from September. These nutritional guidelines are welcome, but will they be enforced? Unison, the union which represents school catering staff, is worried that, with schools taking control f the budget for dinners, standards will fall. Cash-strapped schools could be tempted to cut back on catering.

This would be a missed oportunity. Research suggests that children who eat well learn better. Yet, one in four British schoolchildren do not get a hot meal at home and 400,000 skip breakfast every day.

Ministers have rejected a call by MPs for OFSTED to inspect school meals services. Instead they favour a "light touch" approach. This will reduce the burden on schools. But if the new rules are to be effective they will need some bite.

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