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Opting out of school dinners

PUBLISHED: 15:07 15 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:33 03 March 2010

ONE Ipswich primary school has decided to opt out of the county school meals service from next term, while another is considering a similar move.

However, the headteachers of both schools, Sidegate and St Matthew's, are stressing that daily dinners will still be on the menu as normal, served by the same staff.

ONE Ipswich primary school has decided to opt out of the county school meals service from next term, while another is considering a similar move.

However, the headteachers of both schools, Sidegate and St Matthew's, are stressing that daily dinners will still be on the menu as normal, served by the same staff.

Up to now, primary schools have had no option but to buy meals through the education authority.

But the rules are changing from April, giving them the choice to opt out and run their own meals service.

David Crowe, head of Sidegate Primary School, said his school, the biggest primary in Suffolk with more than 600 pupils, would be opting out of the county-wide service from next term.

However, he added pupils would not notice much difference to start with.

"We are thinking that things will carry on very much as they are now. The staff will be employed by the school and they will just carry on with their job – the only difference will be to the management."

Mr Crowe said they were thinking of introducing some changes from September, but he pointed out that nutritional requirements were strict and the menu was unlikely to change very much. "We won't be having chips every day!"

He said there might be some changes to the price of a meal, but the cost would not be going up. "We probably wouldn't have the same charge as the county and might look at having a cheaper meal for the younger children."

Entitlement to free school dinners will not be affected by the changes.

Clive Minnican, headteacher of St Matthew's Primary, said no definite decision had yet been taken, but his school was also considering opting out of the county catering service.

"We see this as a very positive move. Schools are taking on more of their own responsibilities and we are finding the fact that we have more local control is beneficial.

"We have already opted out of the county cleaning service and found we could employ more cleaners."

A spokesman for the county council's education department said secondary schools were given the option to opt out of the county meals service some years ago, but only one, Thurston Community College in West Suffolk, had made the move.

"Now the same option is available for primary schools and we have had notification from two schools that they are considering opting out.

"However, there are 260 primary schools in Suffolk, so this will only affect less than one per cent of schools."


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