FGSL News June 2015

 25 June 2015

Cyrus Todiwala launches Edible Playground in Tower Hamlets

St Paul’s Whitechapel Primary – Inspiring children to grow and eat good food

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a project led by Trees for Cities (TfC), to provide schools in urban areas the opportunity to grow food in their playgrounds, yesterday launched an edible playground in St Paul’s Whitechapel, CE Primary School, Tower Hamlets.

Chef, restaurateur, author and media personality Cyrus Todiwala OBE, whose flagship restaurant, Café Spice Namaste, is located on Prescot Street, within the borough of Tower hamlets, officially opens the edible playground today.  The local chef will be buying produce harvested in the EP to use in his restaurant.

The children at St Paul’s Whitechapel, CE Primary School have been growing lettuce, spinach, lalshak, chard, peas, beans, tomatoes and potatoes in their edible playground.  The EP has a lovely herb garden with lots of sensory plants and a pollinator garden to attract bees, butterflies and other insects to help the plants grow.  There is also a rhubarb patch, edible flowers, willow teepees and a wormery to create compost for healthy soil.

Noelle age 9, Year 4 pupil said: “Our edible playground creates a healthy environment, which makes the world a better place”.

EP benefits children’s health and education by offering those living in urban areas the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat good food, and integrate outdoor learning into the school curriculum. By transforming school grounds into fully functional food growing spaces, EP provides children the opportunity to be active outside – getting them excited about food growing and understanding where food comes from.

Cyrus Todiwala said: ‘I was delighted to open the Edible Garden at St Paul’s Primary School. I personally believe that children will appreciate food most if they know where it comes from. Being in the middle of the city we do not always have the opportunity to understand what farmers and producers can, so edible playgrounds, like this are an excellent way to expose children to the nature and its provenance.’

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said: “Edible Playgrounds engage children with nature and show them how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors.  Absence of natural green spaces in inner cities creates a lack of knowledge about food, its origins and how to make healthy choices about what to eat, which is an especially important issue for today’s youngest generations, many of whom are not able to see food growing.  We are delighted that the school community at St Paul’s Whitechapel, CE Primary School has come together to support the launch of an edible playground.”

Trees for Cities has been working in schools to plant fruit and nut trees since 2000. With this track record and experience, TfC’ technical expertise in the delivery of Edible Playgrounds and operations is well established and highly regarded. The first Edible Playground was created in 2003. There are currently over 25 Edible Playgrounds in the UK with a further 50 to be rolled out over the next three years.

The project has also been supported by Marsh and Bloomberg.


20 June 2015

Food Growing Schools: London to deliver support to Food Flagship Schools

UPDATE: The Food Flagship boroughs (Lambeth and Croydon) are making fantastic progress with many projects now off the ground (see original story: News 12 March 2015).  The Greater London Authority (GLA) is happy to be supporting Food Growing Schools: London to begin a programme which will deliver one to one support to 15 schools in Croydon that are not already food growing.  In addition, FGSL are delivering a series of food growing training workshops in schools in both Flagship boroughs in order to encourage all schools in the flagships to grow food.  Announcements of further food projects being funded through  the Food Flagship programme coming soon!

  • Lambeth Food Flagship aims to nurture the love of good food in the borough.
  • The principal aims of Croydon becoming a Food Flagship Borough are: growing food, learning to cook healthier food, and understanding the importance of a balanced, nutritious diet in preventing obesity.
  • Read more about the Food Flagship boroughs here.

To ensure your school is eligible for initiatives FGSL is running, please fill in our survey.


16 June 2015

Pupils to make “informed choices about healthy eating”, says Ofsted in new inspection framework

Ashton Vale School. Food For Life Partnership
Photo: Food For Life Partnership

In a watershed moment for school food, Ofsted has formally included healthy eating and knowledge of how to eat healthily in its Common Inspection Framework published yesterday. The Food for Life Partnership welcomes the commitment to children’s health it will bring about and reiterates its ongoing support for schools which can help with Ofsted inspections.

Head teachers and caterers are already working hard to make sure their students eat well and learn about food – new school food standards were introduced in January of this year, and practical cookery has been made compulsory in the national curriculum. Now Ofsted has gone further in its announcement yesterday that from September, the ability of pupils to “make informed choices about healthy eating” will form part of a judgment under personal development, behaviour and welfare.

This announcement follows a letter sent to the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food in February, in which Ofsted highlighted that they would be placing a renewed emphasis on school food, adding that “inspectors will look for evidence of a culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating throughout the entire inspection visit, in classrooms as well as in the school canteen.”

“A culture” of “healthy eating” goes beyond the food on the plate. Head teachers may be expected to explain how they monitor and evaluate food education, and asked whether students and parents are consulted in the development of menus. Inspectors may assess the atmosphere and culture of the dining space, and may ask whether the school governor responsible for healthy eating can provide evidence of compliance with the school food standards.

Schools looking to build and evidence this positive food culture can get free support through the Food for Life Partnership. The Department for Education has provided time-limited funding to boost school meal take-up through a number of packages that can also support school leaders to prepare for Ofsted inspection. Increase Your School Meal Take Up (IYSMTU) is being delivered by the Food for Life Partnership, whose tailored support package is worth up to £2,000. Junior and secondary schools have until the end of the summer term to register and can sign up.

For school leaders looking to excel, there is additional support available through the Food for Life Schools Award. This provides a framework in which head teachers can use food as a way to improve the whole school experience: making lunchtime a more positive feature of the day and enriching classroom learning with farm visits, practical cooking and growing. Over a thousand schools have already achieved the Award, which provides strong evidence of a culture of healthy eating in action.

Joanna Lewis, Strategy & Policy Director of Food for Life said:

“Healthy eating has been put firmly on the plate of head teachers, caterers and governors and the Food for Life Partnership can provide expert support. A whole school approach is the most effective way of establishing a culture of healthy eating. Funded support runs out at the end of the school year and our advice to schools is to sign up urgently so they don’t miss this golden opportunity.”

To find out more visit the Food For Life Partnership website.


12 June 2015

MBE honour for school food plan restaurateurs

By Judith Burns – BBC Education reporter. See full report: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-33111555

Restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent have been made MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for their work in improving school lunches.

The pair, co-founders of the Leon restaurant chain, led a government commissioned independent review of school food, published two years ago. Their report formed the basis of revised rules on school dinners in England, brought in earlier this year. John Vincent said the aim was to bring about a cultural change in schools.

‘Children as customers’

It was vital to boost the uptake of school dinners to promote “a virtuous cycle of quality” and simply changing the rules on what could be served was not enough, said Mr Vincent. Introducing free school meals for all infant pupils and more cookery lessons in schools would help, he argued, but “treating individual children as customers, sorting out the queues and making the food great”, were key. Ultimately the pair believe better nutrition in schools will help both boost attainment and improve the nation’s health. Mr Vincent called the work “a massive privilege and a character building task”. “This recognition is a tribute to all of the people who work hard every day to provide health, pleasure and improved attainment to our children,” he said.

In 2012 the pair were asked to examine nutrition in England’s schools and suggest improvements. Their School Food Plan, was published a year later. Mr Dimbleby said they had become involved at a time when improvements in school catering were already under way.

A campaign fronted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver had already brought about changes to the quality of food served in English schools – but less than half of children actually ate them, with many preferring packed lunches of variable nutritional quality. Their current aim is to showcase best practice in school catering and bring about “a golden age for school food”. “I think it’s reflective of the fact that the sector, which used to work quite disparately, doing lots of good things, has really come together and there’s an amazing, positive, constructive atmosphere of improvement across the country,” said Mr Dimbleby. “I think the MBE is recognition of that, rather than anything John and I have done.”

Mr Dimbleby said he was always impressed by what he saw when he went into schools. “There’s real change happening, in five years time the whole sector will be completely transformed.” Under the new rules, which came into force in January, meals must include at least one portion of vegetables or salad every day and no more than two portions of fried foods or pastry-based foods a week. The regulations are mandatory for local authority schools as well academies set up before 2010 or after June 2014.

However academies set up between 2010 and June 2014 are exempt, a source of frustration to campaigners. The government maintains it has encouraged these academies to sign up voluntarily to the new standards and that hundreds have already done so.

In total, about 11% of recipients on the honours list have been recognised for their work in the education sector. Others include Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, who becomes a CBE.

Among the 30 head teachers on the list are Nicholas Weller, executive principal of Dixons Academies in Bradford, who has been knighted. The announcement comes the day after the stabbing of a teacher during a science class at one of his schools, Dixons Kings Academy.

See full BBC report: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-33111555


2 June 2015

Trees for Cities launches new Edible Playgrounds website

Opening of Edible Playground at Carlton Primary School in Camden, London
Opening of Edible Playground at Carlton Primary School in Camden, London. Trees for Cities.

Trees for Cities (TfC) is inviting schools, businesses and funders to explore its new Edible Playground website www.edibleplaygrounds.org.

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a project led by Trees for Cities, transform outdoor areas in school grounds into fully functional food growing spaces, giving children the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat good food. EP get children living in urban areas excited about growing good and understanding where food comes from.

The charity has already created over 25 Edible Playgrounds in London and is expanding the programme out across the UK this year.  As the demand for Edible Playgrounds is increasing rapidly, they now have a website dedicated to the projects involved within it.

The website has been designed to provide information to schools thinking of having their own Edible Playground and to businesses interested in supporting the project.  On the homepage you can watch an Edible Playground in action at Rotherfield Primary School in Islington, read case studies from schools and access lots of information, including how much space it will take, how much it will cost, what resources are needed and the benefits of creating an Edible Playground.

TfC also want to encourage businesses to help create more food growing spaces in schools by sponsoring EP and the website provides plenty of information on how they can support the project.

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said:  “With 37 per cent of children between the ages of 5 – 12 not eating enough every day and 20 per cent obese on leaving primary school, more and more schools are now educating their children on how food is grown and on making healthy eating choices.  Edible Playgrounds show children how rewarding it is to spend time outdoors and get them excited about where their food comes from.  We’re delighted to be able to launch the Edible Playground website and I would urge all schools, businesses and funders to visit it”.

Schools signed up to the Edible Playground project will get access to the Hub area on the site, where they will be able to get all the growing and educational resources they need to look after their Edible Playground and use it as an effective and engaging outdoor classroom to teach through gardening.
Visit www.edibleplaygrounds.org. Why not give us your feedback on the new website, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions please email info@edibleplaygrounds.org

Ends

For more information please contact:

Samantha Lagan – 020 7820 4426/07825541130
samantha@treesforcities.org
Images available upon request

Notes to Editors

Edible Playgrounds (EP), a project led by Trees for Cities, transform outdoor areas in school grounds into fully functional food growing spaces, giving children the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat good food.  Edible Playgrounds tackle the problems of obesity, food poverty and lack of access to nature head on – getting kids excited about growing food and understanding where food comes from. We design and construct the food growing spaces and support the school to utilize the outdoor space as a learning resource.  EP provides children the opportunity to be active outside, which benefits children’s health and education. An EP typically includes raised beds, a greenhouse, wormery, fruit trees and an irrigation system.  www.edibleplaygrounds.org

Trees for Cities (TfC) is an independent charity, which inspires people to plant and love trees worldwide. Set up in 1993, Trees for Cities’ aim is to create social cohesion and beautify our cities through tree planting, community-led design, education and training initiatives in urban areas that need it most.
We manage projects across the UK as well as internationally in cities such as Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Ica.  Our work supports urban tree planting initiatives particularly in deprived areas of cities.
Community-led design is an integral part of our landscaping projects. Involving local residents, schools and community groups helps ensure the sustainability of green spaces. www.treesforcities.org


Disclaimer: The Food Growing Schools: London partnership does not take responsibility for the content of news articles written by individual organisations, which are published on our ‘News’ pages.

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