“Because that’s how we’ve always done it.”
It’s a sentence I hear a lot in my job, when I ask schools why they run their lunchtimes in a particular way.
Sometimes it’s a great answer to hear, when lunchtimes are working well. You might think of these schools as having a gut instinct for a good lunchbreak; an innate handle on the things pupils need to set them up for the afternoon: good food, a pleasant place to eat, enough time to enjoy their meal as well as sitting to chat, taking part in a club or activity, or tearing around the football field.
But for other schools, it’s more of an admission than a bold statement. Schools are such busy places, and it can be so hard to find time to step out of the day job and really scrutinise why things are done the way they are – even if they’re not working.
When it comes to making enough time for lunch, it’s often lunchtime supervisors who can trigger a fresh look at the status quo. In their role, they’re on the front line for dealing with the impact of pupils not having enough time for their lunchbreak. If they’re dealing with students rushing to be served and so queuing for longer; behaviour issues in the scramble for a seat; students not bothering to eat at all so that they can take part in activities or students going off-site to grab a bag of chips because it saves them time, they start looking at the school’s lunchtime systems and processes with a fresh pair of eyes.
A top tip for making sure you’re giving students enough time for lunch, and that your systems make the best use of the time you have? Talk to your lunchtime supervisors. They may spot issues that you haven’t, or may have ideas on what might make things better. They might not be on the premises for as long as you or your catering team, but their perspective is worth its weight in gold.
Jayne’s one of our children’s food advisors who helps schools to make sure they’re giving children the time they need to eat and unwind during the day. Email Jayne
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