Nutrition standards in schools may not be met if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, some councils warn. The BBC reported that these local authorities anticipated rising food prices, less choice and problems with imports, especially perishable food, from Europe. As a result, some councils are including possible interruptions in food supply in their no-Brexit contingency plans.
The Department for Education responded by claiming ‘any suggestion that schools will no longer have to adhere to nutrition standards is misleading’.
Secondly, unlike Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the English School Food Standards don’t apply to all state schools in England. This is where the DfE confuses ‘expect’ with ‘must’.
‘It remains the case that schools must comply with the School Food Standards, which require food to be nutritious and of a high standard’, the DfE wrote (my emphasis).
But not all schools in England 'must' meet school food standards. They are only mandatory for ‘maintained schools’, those schools under the stewardship of local authorities. Academies and free schools are only expected to adhere to the standards unless they were established since 2014 when an ‘explicit requirement’ to meet the standards was added to funding agreements.
There are hundreds of academies and free schools set up before 2014. Many of these will meet school food standards but they don’t have to. The DfE just says ‘We expect…’
Expecting schools to do something is not the same as saying they must do it. It is misleading for the DfE to say all schools must comply with food standards when the nearly nine thousand academies* don’t have to.
*These academies include all academies (converter or sponsored), free schools, studio schools and University Technical Colleges. All of these are types of academies. The latest government data says there are 8,728.