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To make sure our children really enjoy their lunchtimes the environment needs to be conducive for socialising, eating and playing.

In the dining hall that means creating a restaurant style environment that will motivate our children to eat together and eat better. To help us with this we are working with Recipe for Change, a company that specialises in improving school lunchtimes. Their work will include training our Midday Supervisors, so they build healthy relationships with all our children as well as setting up a new restaurant.recipe for change logo


Here’s a diary of what we have done starting with our most recent activity.

Friday 7th September 2018

Pupils report that they enjoy the new lunch service:

"much calmer and quieter, I can chat with my friends" (Year 5 pupil)

"it's better because there is more space" (Year 6 pupil)

"it's very well organised, I like the table groups" (Year 5 pupil)

"the queue is much shorter!" (Year 5 pupil)

"it's fantastic!" (Year 4 pupil)

"eleven out of ten!" (Year 4 pupil)

Tuesday 4th September 2018

Day one launch! Paul Aagaard visited us again to help and support us with this.  Assemblies held throughout the morning meant that pupils were able to find their tables, and further develop their understanding of the new lunch service. 

At lunchtime, pupils were keen to sit in their friendship groups, and take on the table captain roles! SMSAs are able to better engage with pupils, and the spaces are being left clearer and tidier for the next sittings. Pupils know where they are sitting, and they feel more secure and happy with this. It has been quieter in the halls, and everyone is able to enjoy a chat over lunch!

Monday 3rd September 2018

Further training with all SMSAs to support the launch of our new lunch service.

July 2018

Pupils spent time with class teachers to plan the friendship groups for the seating plans for September. 

Monday 25th June 2018

Paul Aagaard from Recipe for Change visited us again to meet up with Pupil Parliament, caterers, Supervisors and school leaders to discuss our restaurant launch in September.

Restaurant name and logo
Pupil Parliament said they are going to run a competition to create a name for the new restaurant and design a logo.

Bread baskets on tables
Freshly baked bread will be placed on each table in our new restaurant.bread basket

Encouraging children to eat
Supervisors spend far too much time wiping tables, managing queues and pouring water. The introduction of a seating plan so everyone knows where they are sitting and asking children to work as Table Captains - pouring water, wiping tables and clearing waste - will give Supervisors more time to engage.

Monday 30th April 2018

To help us finalise our restaurant-style dining room Paul Aagaard visited our schools to meet with the caterers, Pupil Parliament, Supervisors and teachers. One of our parent governors attended some of the meetings so she could get a better understanding of the proposed lunchtime changes.

School meal ordering
Our caterers Radish have been very supportive of the proposed new service. To avoid children queuing up in the dining hall to get ticked off a school meal register and then queue again to collect their dinner school meal registration will be done in the classroom. During registration at the beginning of the day, teachers will record each child’s meal choice. They will then be issued with a coloured wristband – red for first meal option, green for the vegetarian option and yellow for the third option. The wristband system will speed up service because caterers will know what each child has ordered when they arrive in the hall and they won’t have to get ticked off a register in the dining room so only queue once and not twice.

coloured wristbands



Pupil Parliament

The children said they really liked the idea of sitting in friendship groups. ‘it will be really nice to eat in a calm environment’ said one of the pupils ‘and just be able to forget about everything for a while’.

School meal pictures
Teachers said that many children don’t know what dishes like Quiche or Shepherds’ Pie are. Pictures of the school meals will be made available in all classrooms when the new service is launched.

Wednesday 18th October 2017
Over recent years our school has expanded to a full four form entry school with well over 800 pupils. This has presented challenges in terms of space and time over the lunch period. To help us improve our provision we invited Paul Aagaard from Recipe for Change to visit our school again. He observed our lunchtimes, the dining room and playground and met with our caterers, Pupil Parliament, Supervisors and teachers.

Everyone had a chance to have their say. Here is a summary of the lunchtime changes we are planning to introduce.

Lunchtime charter
Pupil Parliament has written a lunchtime charter which includes all the rules that they feel are important to follow at lunchtime. As we are a Right Respecting school the rules are based on three rights. The right to be safe, the right to nutritious food and the right to a clean environment. A charter has been developed because Pupil Parliament and staff said that children’s behaviour at lunchtime isn’t as good as it is in the classroom.
Here is the link to our Lunchtime Charter.

Restaurant style dining room

Our two dining rooms are very congested and noisy. Our children queue to queue for school dinners, firstly to register on the school meal system and then again to collect their dinner. The children often feel rushed and Supervisors spend most of their time managing queues and cleaning tables.

Recipe for Change will help us introduce a new restaurant style dining room in September which is an evidence-based approach to solving all these very common problems that schools face. Here’s a summary of how it’s going to work.

New lunch timetable –Our lunchtime is currently 1 hour for KS2 and 1 hour and 10 minutes for KS1 and EYFS. It’s impossible to get all our children fed in this time without feeling rushed. To make sure everyone has plenty of time to eat we will be introducing a staggered lunch break over a two-hour period from September 2018.

Friendship groups – Children will sit in friendship groups (which they will choose themselves), so everyone knows who they are sitting with, where they are sitting, when and for how long. The idea of having a seating plan, just as we do in the classroom, is a routine that reduces noise and creates an on-task behaviour environment, which at lunchtime is about socialising and eating mindfully.

friendship groups for lunchtimes

Eating together – Those who opt for a home-packed lunch currently eat in their classroom in KS2. This is divisive and means children can’t sit with their friends unless they all choose to eat packed lunches. It puts pressure on our Supervisors who have to monitor 16 classrooms and is disruptive to our teachers who can’t access their classrooms at lunchtime. Introducing a series of sittings, staggered over two hours gives us enough space in the two halls to accommodate all our children so both packed lunch eaters and school meal eaters will be able to sit together.

Table Captains – Our children, except for those in Reception year, will be asked to work as Table Captains on a rota basis. This will include wiping their table, clearing away all plates and bowls - irrespective of whether they are eating a school meal or packed lunch - and waiting for any slow eaters to finish.

Mindful eating –We know it takes 20 minutes for our stomach to tell the brain we are either full up or still hungry, so we are going to make sure that everyone eats together for 20 minutes before anyone leaves our restaurant. 20 minutes is the minimum time that everyone will eat together - our ‘early finish’ time. We have made sure there is more time to eat for those who need it. Our Reception children will have 40 minutes. Year 1 and Year 2 will have 30 minutes and all other year groups will have 25 minutes.

Thursday 1st September 2016

Recipe for Change ran positive behaviour training for our Midday Supervisors and some Teaching Assistants. The training identified four ways to improve engagement with children.

De-escalating incidents – Most minor incidents can be quickly resolved if Supervisors use this three-tiered strategy. Firstly, wherever possible agree or partially agree with the child to make them feel they are being listened to. Secondly, remind children who are engaging in any inappropriate behaviour of the school rule that they aren’t following. Thirdly encourage children to make the right choice and explain the consequences of making the wrong choice.

Rewarding good behaviour – Our Supervisors were encouraged to focus on and reward children who are well behaved and not engage with the tiny minority who behave inappropriately unless a serious incident is reported or observed. Supervisors now give out Lunchtime Award cards to those children who consistently follow our school rules at lunchtime such as showing respect and playing co-operatively. These can be swapped for a sticker from the class teacher, who will be able to reinforce and praise this positive behaviour at this time. 

lunchtime award image


Behaviour cards Our Supervisors now carry laminated cards attached to their lanyards with the proposed scripts to help de-escalate incidents and reward good behaviour.

Positive phrasing – Supervisors to use positive and constructive statements that explain what they want a child to start doing rather than stop doing. If a child is running; ‘stop running’ isn’t helpful and focuses on the inappropriate behaviour. Saying ‘walk, thank you’ is constructive and explains in a non-emotive and constructive way what you want the child to do.