Ipswich school's healthy lifestyle

FIRST in Suffolk to be deemed a healthy high school, this Ipswich school's latest push is to persuade its pupils to forego fattening treats such as chips and sweets.

FIRST in Suffolk to be deemed a healthy high school, this Ipswich school's latest push is to persuade its pupils to forego fattening treats such as chips and sweets.

Thurleston High School was awarded healthy school status in 2003 and, as part of its new status, is determined to help its pupils eat healthily.

Headteacher Mike Everett said: "Our pupils can leave the site at lunchtime and are meant to go home and have a proper lunch, but it also means they can go to the chip shop or get sweets.

"We serve hot meals, salads, sandwiches and fruit in the dining room, but the most popular things are pizzas, burgers, chips and chicken nuggets.

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"If we stop this type of food, the children will leave the site. We don't want to make them eat salad everyday, but the idea is that they don't eat burgers and chips everyday."

The Defoe Road school has already started to take action.

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The school has a vending machine with healthy options such as water and fruit juice, has cut queuing time in the dining room to encourage pupils to eat on-site and plans to consult with pupils and caterers over the menu.

Christine Holding, the school's personal, social and health education (PSHE) co-ordinator, believes the school could include more tomato-based pasta dishes, more rice dishes and filled baguettes.

She said: "We need to change what is available and move away from burgers and chips. It is about having different things, attractively presented and reasonably priced."

"I think the sixth form tend to want healthy options and the younger ones tend to have reasonably healthy packed lunches, but there is a section of year nine and year ten pupils who always go for the unhealthier option."

Thurleston High School first started its push for the national healthy school standard in 2000-2001 and has fulfilled most of the standard's key themes - PSHE, drugs education, emotional health and well-being, physical activity, safety and sex and relationships education.

When the school discovered that one of the reasons why a number of girls did not take part in PE was because they disliked traditional team games, activities such aerobics, gymnastics, trampolining and dance were added to the curriculum.

The school has introduced water coolers, encouraged pupils to recycle and cracked down on litter.

Other actions include holding theme days to explore the issues around alcohol and holidays abroad and starting a pupil-mentoring scheme to help children talk about problems such as bullying.

The school is now working towards completing the last two themes - healthy eating and citizenship.

Across the county, 110 schools are involved in Suffolk's healthy schools programme, which is a joint scheme between the county's education department and local health trusts and is part of the government's national healthy schools scheme.

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