Message to DfE; ‘expect’ is not the same as ‘must’

Janet Downs's picture

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’.

This statement is also misleading.  First, the School Food Standards only apply to England. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own requirements. 

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.

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John Mountford's picture
Wed, 21/08/2019 - 11:14

Yet more scare mongering!! If we go on much longer procrastinating over Brexit I anticipate it won't be long before some bright spark will inform us if we leave without a deal there won't be enough air to breathe. It's time we left the EU. Had we been properly represented by the wooden-tops who think they are suitable to lead our nation in parliament over three years ago, this would have been a done deal. The most damage caused to our country is the delay in honouring the mandate from 2016.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/08/2019 - 11:42

The focus of the article was the DfE's confusion between 'expect' and 'must'.   I made no comment on whether the councils' comments were Project Fear or not. 

That said, it's important that local authorities prepare for any possible eventuality.  Kent is an example of one such council.  It sent advice to its schools on how to prepare for a possible no-deal in January (see this article, scroll down).

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