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St James School

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We can’t be teaching about healthy eating in the classroom and serving a pie and cake at lunchtime, then expect parents not to send junk food for lunch. It is about supporting and encouraging both parents and kids

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Principal

The school ethos and organisation

The principal at St James School emphasises the importance of the whole school approach to healthy eating, which the school has adopted

Food basket.

since becoming part of the Fruit in Schools scheme in 2005. “We can’t be teaching about healthy eating in the classroom and serving a pie and cake at lunchtime, then expect parents not to send junk food for lunch. It is about supporting and encouraging both parents and kids.” The school’s nutrition policy was revised in May 2007.

Curriculum programmes

The school had been working on teaching healthy eating at the classroom level for some years, but not in a coordinated way. Since teachers adopted the whole school teaching approach to healthy eating in 2005, they have planned units of work together, to integrate health into other curriculum areas. They use "inquiry learning" so that lessons on the same topic are driven by each class’s interests and needs. At the end of the term, work is showcased to other students in the school, parents, and to the wider community.

Co-curricular health promotion opportunities

During 2008, the whole school were involved with the development of an edible garden, led by a class of Year 3/4 students. They used interviews and survey questionnaires to seek information from the other classes and the community. They continued to use this approach for the design and use of the garden as well. The envirogroup had developed a bokashi composting system and this was taken further by the children at the beginning of 2009 with the development of a worm farm to aid the garden. Through their class programmes and other activities they are maintaining the gardens and using the produce for sharing at school when making a special lunch, with extra produce being taken home to use.

The school and community environment

Art.

Classroom lessons are reinforced every day by what is happening in the rest of the school. There are water fountains in all classrooms as well as outside, and students are encouraged to drink by having water bottles at their desk. Students and teachers have a fruit break at 10:30 each morning, and lunch eating is supervised in the classroom for 10 minutes before children go outside to play. Teachers encourage children to eat bread items first, and offer positive reinforcement by congratulating children who have healthy lunches. If children have no lunch or if they have an unhealthy lunch (for example, just chippies), they are encouraged to eat fruit from the Fruit in Schools supply. Left-over fruit is sent home with students at the end of the week.

Other bonuses of the fruit break and eating inside at lunchtime include having less rubbish in the playground, which contributes to St James’ status as an enviro school. Students take the responsibility of being fruit monitors seriously and organise the fruit distribution each day, collecting it from the office and gathering waste to compost and use in the school gardens.

School and community partnerships

Teachers are modelling healthy eating behaviour. School lunches are healthier, with most students now bringing sandwiches and fruit in addition to the fruit provided by the school each day. The children, initially apprehensive about different kinds of fruit, now look forward to it each day because they find it enjoyable – not just healthy.

Children regularly count their 5+ a Day and discuss it with teachers. Parents report that children are more likely to try different foods and that it is easier to give their children treats only at weekends or special events. Some parents report that children are asking for healthier food at home, are more likely to choose to drink water, and are even sometimes reprimanding parents for poor food choices. Parents are supported with healthy eating ideas and suggestions in the school newsletters.

Staff see working in cluster groups with other schools as a way of achieving sustainability and ensuring children receive consistent messages throughout their school years.


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