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Education

Pupils still hungry after eating their school dinners

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Hungry pupils: are schools catering for enough food?

Hungry pupils: are schools
catering for enough food?

A REPORT has stated that some primary school pupils are still hungry after school lunches, with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales expressing concern that for some children this is the only hot meal they get. Commissioner, Keith Towler, said: “I recognise that times are tough on local authorities but we’re talking about a basic need here. Something is wrong with the system. For many of these children – due to their socio-economic background – this is the only hot meal they’ll get all day.

There’s been much discussion over recent years about how nutritious meals can really boost educational attainment – if we’re serious about improving educational outcomes for all children in Wales, then let’s start by getting the basics right for them.” Last year a BBC Wales survey was undertaken and found a number of councils had left the decision on extra servings either to the schools themselves or their caterers. A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have produced statutory guidance for local authorities and governing bodies including a section on suggested portion sizes.

A school lunch should provide 30% of a learner’s estimated average energy requirement. Schools and local authorities have a legal duty to comply with the statutory guidance.” The Herald spoke exclusively with Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) to find out how they are making sure enough provision is being made for their local primary schools and their pupils’ nutritional needs. A spokesperson said: “Pembrokeshire County Council’s School Meals Service currently provides a Welsh Government compliant `Appetite for Life` primary menu.

The menu fully complies with both the nutritional and food based standards set out by the Welsh Government, ensuring every pupil within the County has access to a nutritionally balanced meal, with set portion sizes. The School Meals Service acknowledges the fact that the nutrient-based standards apply to an average school lunch over five consecutive days, and relates to overall provision rather than individual consumption. Also, some pupils need to eat more than others depending on body size, metabolism and physical activity.

For this reason, if surplus food is available, pupils are able to have additional portions on request”. The Herald asked if all primary school children receive the same sized food servings regardless of age? The spokesperson continued, saying: “The primary menu is a two course set menu with a vegetarian option. The nutritional standards set by the Welsh Government for Primary schools have been calculated using a percentage split across the range of 4 to 11 years of age. The School Meals Service adheres to these standards and the suggested portions sizes, as advised by the Welsh Government, and therefore currently provides the same-sized food servings for all primary school-aged children.

However, pupils are able to have additional portions on request. The size of the servings provided is the same for all Secondary School-aged children and is based on the Welsh Government’s suggested portion sizes. No complaints have been received in relation to this policy and therefore there are no imminent plans to review it”.

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Education

Beach Wheelchair scheme boosted by Bournemouth University students’ animation

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PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority’s Outdoor Mobility Project is being promoted online thanks to an animation produced by students for Bournemouth University students.

The animation, which has been created for BFX, the UK’s largest computer game and animation festival, features the type of specially designed beach wheelchairs that are available to hire at various locations around the Pembrokeshire Coast.

The Park Authority’s Pembrokeshire Outdoor Mobility Project also includes mobility scooters and all-terrain wheelchairs, which are available at inland locations including Carew Castle, Castell Henllys Iron Age Village and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St Davids.

National Park Authority Health and Well-being Policy Officer, Hannah Buck said: “We were absolutely delighted to be chosen to be part of the competition and blown away by the quality of work and attention to detail shown by the students.

“The students have been brilliant to work with and really understood our brief and we are and are delighted with the finished animation, which will help spread the word about the range of equipment available to hire around the National Park.

The animation titled ‘A Day at the Seaside’ sees an elderly mother and her son looking at old photographs of a family holiday to Pembrokeshire in 1982.

The mother indicates her use of a walking stick would make a return trip impossible, but the son appears with a beach wheelchair and the two are able to enjoy a day on the beach just like they had done 40 years previously.

The animation competition winners will be announced during the BFX Festival in November.

The team behind the animation are Janet He, Koey Leung, Malachi Dempsey-Clark, Maria Bartucca and Soraya Assadian, with music by Jess Ward.

To find out more about the BFX Festival competition visit www.bfxfestival.com/competitions.

To watch the video, find out more about the beach wheelchairs and to find out how to pre-book, please visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/beachwheelchairs.

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Education

New free school meals policy launched at Ysgol Bro Preseli in Crymych

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A NATIONAL scheme to roll out free school meals to the youngest learners in primary schools in Wales has been launched today (Wednesday, 7 September) by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Sian Gwenllian MS at Ysgol Bro Preseli in Crymych.

In Pembrokeshire, the rollout will include learners in:

full time nursery

• reception

• and years 1 and 2 pupils in primary schools

Known as the Universal Primary Free School Meals, the policy is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The agreement will see free school meals extended to ALL primary school learners over the next three years.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “No child should go hungry. Families throughout Wales are under huge pressure because of the cost-of-living crisis and we are doing everything we can to support them.

“Extending free school meals to all primary schools is one of a number of measures we are taking to support families through this difficult time.

“I’m really pleased to see how our schools have embraced this and the speed at which they and our public services have worked together to begin providing free school meals.

“We know younger children are more likely to be living in relative income poverty, which is why the youngest of our learners will be the first to benefit.”

Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education and the Welsh Language, said Pembrokeshire County Council were delighted to support the policy.

“Families are facing difficult times with the increasing everyday costs of living, so free, nutritious school meals for our youngest learners are great news,” he said. “No child should come to school hungry or be hungry during the day.

“We’d like to encourage parents of children in full-time nursery, reception and years 1 and 2 in primary schools to take advantage of this fantastic scheme from Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.”

Ysgol Bro Preseli Headteacher Mrs Rhonwen Morris said: “As a school we aim to provide all learners with the same opportunity to thrive. We nurture learners from a young age; academically, socially and physically.

“We welcome such a progressive scheme ensuring that learners are provided with a nutritious balanced diet that will support all aspects of their education, progress and wellbeing.

“We look forward to seeing this scheme being extend to all primary school learners over the next three years thus ensuring equity for all in primary education.”

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Education

Blue Gem Wind support Pembrokeshire College with new BTEC Engineering Course

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BLUE Gem Wind are supporting Pembrokeshire College with a BTEC Engineering course aimed at providing a pathway to renewables for 14-16 year-olds. The new course, which begins in September, will be delivered in partnership with other local renewable energy companies and is supported by the Skills and Talent strand of the Swansea Bay City Deal.   

Mike Scott, Project Managing Director at Blue Gem Wind, explained. “The offshore wind sector around the UK is progressing at a pace that is already seeing skills shortages, particularly in engineering roles. As we continue to develop Wales’ first floating wind project it is crucial that we play a meaningful role in supporting Pembrokeshire’s future generations to get ready for a career in floating offshore wind.”

David Jones, Stakeholder Manager, added, “We are looking forward to working in collaboration with the college and other local renewable energy companies to deliver this exciting new course. This focus on 14-16 year-olds will complement our primary school STEM related programme.”

Hayley Williams, Curriculum Development Manager at Pembrokeshire College, said. “Pembrokeshire College is very excited to offer this unique collaborative programme to learners from Milford Haven School and Ysgol Harri Tudur. Blue Gem Wind will bring real life examples of floating wind engineering challenges for the pupils to consider, and the type of job roles and thinking needed to solve them. Enthusing young people about the emergence of new career pathways will help future-proof a skilled workforce for the renewable energy sector in Pembrokeshire.

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