Draft Outline Guidance for Head Teachers and Governors on by uploaddoc


									 Guidance for Procuring School

This guidance has been drafted in consultation with schools (Head
Teachers, Governors, Bursars), Local Education Authorities, the
Industry, DfES, Department of Health, Defra, The National Audit
Office, Food Standards Agency, East Anglia Food Link, National
Governors Council, NAHT, SHA, Local Authority Caterers
Association, the National Bursars Association, Soil Association and
Educo. Thanks to all for your assistance.

This guidance is intended for all stakeholders who have responsibility
for providing school food. We believe it will be particularly useful for
schools and governors but local authorities may also find it useful.
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION                                                   3

SECTION 2: ASSESSING THE SCHOOL MEALS SERVICE                             4
Six key steps to an improved service                                      4
School Meals Procurement Decision Tree                                    5

Develop or refine a „whole school‟ food policy                             5
Who will lead the change?                                                  7
Who else should be involved?                                               8
Nutritional Standards for School Food – the new requirements               9
Sustainability/Organic food/Fresh food                                    10
Menu design                                                               14
Encouraging take-up of school meals                                       14

SECTION 4: DIAGNOSE WHERE YOU ARE NOW                                     16

SECTION 5: EVALUATE THE OPTIONS                                           17
Option 1 – Service Provided Directly by the Local Authority               17
Option 2 – Service Provided by the Local Authority through a Contractor   19
Option 3 – Outsourced by the School                                       21
Option 4 – School Meals Provision – In-house                              22

SECTION 6: CONSIDER THE KEY ISSUES                                        25
Spending on the school meals service                                      25
Budgetary considerations                                                  25
Cashless Payment Systems                                                  26
Working alongside other schools                                           26
Staffing implications and TUPE arrangements                               27
Getting advice                                                            28

Option 1 – Direct Local Authority provision                               32
Option 2 – Local Authority Provision via External Contractor              33
Option 3 – Outsourced by the School                                       34
Option 4 – School Meal Provision – In-house                               44

SECTION 8: IMPLEMENTING THE SOLUTION                                      51
Acknowledgements                                                          51

Appendix One                                                              53
Appendix Two                                                              56
Appendix Three                                                            58
Appendix Four                                                             64
Appendix Five                                                             65

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For many years, most of us have enjoyed improving levels of education and
health. However, there is mounting evidence that increasing levels of obesity in
children, poor diet and declining levels of activity could jeopardise the chances
for our children to lead long, full and active lives.

The Government‟s objectives for change involve a number of programmes
including the “Every Child Matters” agenda; the DfES “Healthy Living Blueprint
for Schools” and the Healthy Schools Programme.

One of the Secretary of State‟s key priorities is to improve school lunches.
Every day over 3 million school lunches are served and for many children, school
lunch is the main meal of the day. School lunches are also socially valuable -
eating communally can help children learn good social skills which will be
important for them throughout life. There are also increasing links being drawn
between diet and behaviour and on children‟s ability to concentrate and learn,
although much of the evidence for this remains anecdotal.

It is therefore important that school lunches and other food provided in schools
are healthy, safe and meet the nutritional requirements for children. Some
school meals services have acquired a reputation for being unhealthy. For a
long time, the emphasis in some catering services has been on cost saving and
on responding to pupils‟ choices rather than providing healthy food options.
Unfortunately, the answer does not simply lie in ensuring that healthier food is
made available. Pupils, particularly in secondary schools, have a choice about
what they eat and will often choose less healthy food, or indeed eat elsewhere, if
they do not want what is offered. To change behaviour, a broad package is
needed which includes education about food and health, not just for children but
for parents and society generally. It can involve a more balanced food offer as
part of a whole school approach, including a better dining experience.

As a major contribution to this package, the government has set new minimum
nutritional standards for school food to ensure healthier eating throughout the
school day, banning from lunchtime menus, foods high in salt, fat and sugar or
containing low quality meat.

Many schools are already providing a school meals service which meets, or is close to
meeting, these new requirements for school food. However, some schools may have
more to do. The guidance sets out some of the issues that governors and head
teachers will need to consider in reviewing their current meals service and deciding
where to go next. It also looks at options available to schools, including contracting the
service out to a different provider, improving the service provided by the existing

contractor or bringing the service in-house, and managing it entirely within the school.
The key messages are that:

       the options available depend on where the school is starting from and will not be
        the same for every school;
       before the school considers its options, it should develop a whole school food
       in addition to the food policy, some schools find it helpful to construct an overall
        plan for the following 2-3 years, so that they can map the development of the
        catering service, including investment decisions, in the context of other school
       if the school is unhappy with its current meals service, it is best to try and fix the
        service first – wholesale change is rarely the easiest option;
       the school should get expert advice if it either plans to procure a contractor or to
        start running their own service.


Given all the recent changes, new guidance and best practice case studies, head
teachers and governors will want to know how they match up to the best and
what else they need to do to improve school lunches and conform to the new
nutritional standards. An added incentive is that Ofsted inspections now include
judgements on food and school meals, and the quality of school food will
therefore impact on the overall assessment of school performance.

Re-assessing your school meals service should:

   address any current dissatisfaction with the service;
   ensure that the service can deliver safe, healthy, nutritional and appetising
    meals whilst also providing best value for money for the school;
   provide greater certainty that you are choosing the delivery method that best
    suits your school‟s particular circumstances, whether delivering in-house,
    through the local authority or a private contractor; and
   maximise the prospects of implementing and managing the service

Six key steps to an improved service

There are six key steps in improving your school meals service which are looked
at in detail below:

   Set the direction – a whole school food policy – Section 3;
   Diagnose where you are now – Section 4;
   Evaluate the options – Section 5;
   Consider the key issues – Section 6;
   Consider the implementation issues – The Practicalities – Section 7;

     Implement the solution – Section 8;

Appendix one sets out a checklist for action against each of these stages.

The key decisions to make at each stage are reflected in the diagram below:

                                    School Meals Procurement Decision Tree

Diagnostic of current provision                      Does your current meals
                                                    provision meet government           Yes       Monitor & enhance
            School health policy                    guidelines and your school                    Submit case study
                                                           health policy?

          Contract direct with food caterer
                                                    What kind of school meals
                                                                                                       Can you fix it?

                                                                   Provided by
    Can you fix it?                                               Local Authority                                               No

    No                                                    Can you fix it?

                                                                             See guidelines for improving
                                                                                  existing provision
                                                                                                                              Consider opportunity of a local
                                                             No                                                               cluster of schools
           Is contract near
          termination date?                                           Consider forming local
                                              Yes                     cluster approach
              No                                                                                           Assess: what is best
                                                                                                       alternative option consistent
                                                                                                                with policy?
     See guidelines on contract                                                                                                            In-house
             variations                                                           Contract direct with food caterer                         catering

                                         Yes          Do you have staff with
                                                    experience of food contract                                  Do you have staff with
                                                           negotiations                                          experience of in-house
         Review sample
                                                                                                                         No            Review in-house
          contracts and
         supplier options                                                    Seek                                                        guidelines

Case studies can be submitted to Pat Meredith at


Setting your direction will involve consideration of a number of issues.

Develop or refine a „whole school‟ food policy

A „Whole School Food Policy‟ is a shared, evolving document for all stakeholders
that interact with your school. It expresses a common vision of the ethos, status
and role of all aspects of food within your school. In particular, it aims to develop

a coherent approach to healthy eating activities.

The school lunch is only part of the story. We strongly suggest that you take this
opportunity to review your school‟s whole school food policy, if you have not
already done so. Before beginning the process of procuring or reviewing the
overall food service, it is essential to consider what you want to get from the
service - as it is not just about the meal. To do this, it will be important to involve
the right people.

There is plenty of guidance available (see below), and for more active advice
and support, the local Healthy Schools Co-ordinator can help you develop your
policy in a meaningful way that will have optimum impact in the school and the
wider community.

What is a „whole school‟ food policy?

A sound school food policy encourages all aspects of food to be brought
together, clearly, coherently and consistently. The considerations should include:

    a planned approach to food education across the curriculum, (e.g. food
     technology, science, personal, social and health education, citizenship), so
     that pupils cover diet, nutrition, safety and hygiene, preparation, cooking
     and healthy lifestyles;
    the school environment and equipment, kitchens and dining facilities;
    provision of food at school, e.g. breakfast clubs, tuck shop, school lunch,
     vending, water consumption and the use of food as a reward;
    consumption of food at school, e.g. eating environment, service style, length
     of breaks, litter, pupils bringing food to schools, packed lunches (including
     information to parents);
    involvement of all school staff, including teachers, support and catering
     staff as well as pupils in reviewing standards; new initiatives with a select
     group of pupils, through a School Nutrition Action Group (SNAG) or the
     School Council;
    whether the pupils should be allowed to leave the premises during the
     school day;
    food content, nutritional standards, sourcing of ingredients, training and
     development for catering staff;
    any issues relating to commercial food vans;
    extra curricular activities, e.g. cookery club, growing club;
    the potential for using the school grounds to grow fruit, vegetables and
     herbs as part of pupils learning where food comes from, could also include
     links with community allotments, visits to farms;
    participation in national events and initiatives, e.g. National Healthy School
     Standard, Growing Schools, Food Partnerships, Food for Life;
    events and lettings at school, e.g. school fete;
    pastoral care and welfare issues, e.g. behaviour, free school meals take-up;

     involving pupils in decision making for school meals, trialling new products,
      and designing menus through curriculum activity.

    A guide on establishing a Whole School Food Policy is included in the Food in
    Schools Toolkit to help you develop, implement and monitor your own food and drink
    policy. An interactive audit tool is also available to assist you.


Having a clear policy on food is critical when it comes to procuring the school
meals service itself. However, once the policy has been developed, the delivery
of the service will need to be specified and procured. You could consider setting
up a School Nutrition Action Group (SNAG) to lead this process or use the school
council (if you have one).

Who will lead the change?

There is a key role for head teachers and governors in leading the change and
for bursars in delivering it. Where the responsibility for providing school lunches
has been delegated to schools, the governing body is required by law to provide
meals to pupils within the school, specifically:

• Free school meals to pupils entitled to receive them (i.e. those whose parents
are receiving certain benefits);
• Paid school meals to other pupils on request.

Those governing bodies also have a responsibility to decide on the content and
cost of meals, and to ensure that they comply with the nutritional standards.
Governors will have a particular role and explicit duties in relation to meals.

The Food Standards Agency and the National Governors‟ Council conducted a
survey of governors in 2003, which found that:
    most governors felt schools should have policies to encourage healthy
      eating but there was some confusion about the role that governing bodies
      should play. Some governors were anxious about trespassing onto the
      day-to-day management role of the headteacher;
    there was little opposition to guidelines promoting fruit for snacks and
      restricting items like fizzy drinks where governing bodies had involved
      parents and children in developing these guidelines;
    implementing food policy was reported to be much more difficult in
      secondary schools than primary schools;
    a recurrent theme was concern about catering companies and the quality
      of school meals, including those delivered as part of Private Finance

For further information on http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/ngcreport.pdf

The National Governors‟ Council has published „Food Policy In Schools - A
strategic policy framework for governing bodies‟, which specifically addresses the
issues for governors in policy development. This includes a helpful checklist for
governors, which is reproduced at Appendix Two to this guidance.

The guidance is available from www.ngc.org.uk

Who else should be involved?

The choice of service impacts on the whole school, so it is important to make
sure the whole school community is involved from the start. This will include:

   pupils – involving pupils can help them to understand the reasons for any
    changes, make links with the curriculum and build support for the take-up of
    school meals;
   parents and carers – involving families is an important way of ensuring
    support for the type of service that is chosen. Families will have a strong
    influence on whether their children take-up the service and will often have
    preferences over what their children eat, including cultural requirements and
    an interest in whether food is fresh or processed, organic and whether
    vegetarian options are available;
   school staff – involving catering, lunchtime, teaching and office staff, will help
    gain the support of the wider staff group and develop links to the curriculum;
   community involvement – the local community and your local
    council/councillors may have views on the type of service provided. Views
    may include preferences for supporting local business and locally delivered
    produce, and support for healthier options, and the environmental impact of
    cutting down on food miles;
   parents with specific interests in food e.g. producers and food retailers.

 School Nutrition Action Groups (SNAG) are school based alliances in which staff,
 pupils and caterers, supported by health and education professionals, work
 together to review and expand the range of food and drink to increase the uptake
 of a healthier diet and ensure consistent messages from the curriculum and the
 food service. This is achieved via:
 the tuck shop;
 vending machines;
 the lunch;
 catering at social functions;
 breakfast provision.

For more information on involving all the right people in the School Nutrition
Action Groups, click here http://www.healthedtrust.com/pages/snag.htm

Nutritional Standards for School Food – the new requirements

An expert group, the School Meals Review Panel (SMRP) started work in May
2005 to recommend new nutritional standards for school lunches. Following a
period of consultation on their recommendations, and the recommendations of
the School Food Trust on other school food, the government has announced a
package of new nutritional standards for all school food provided in local
authority schools. The first of these are the interim food-based standards for
school lunches, which came into force from September 2006. They combine the
existing 2001 standards with a set of new, additional, requirements. These food-
based standards for school lunch are the first in a series of changes being
introduced to make school food healthier and more nutritious.

Many of you may not have to change your practices very much to incorporate the
new standards. But some schools and caterers will need help to introduce the
changes. The School Food Trust has published guidance on the interim food-
based standards for school lunches which will come into force in September
2006. It:

      explains what the new standards are;
      explains why they‟re being introduced;
      offers advice and ideas;
      gives examples of weekly menu plans.

The Trust‟s Guidance can be accessed here at: www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk

The Trust will produce additional guidance in September 2006 on the standards
for other school food.

Timing of the New Standards for Food in Schools

Altogether, the government is introducing three groups of new standards which
will be phased in by September 2009. Together they cover all food sold or
served in schools: breakfast, lunch and after school meals; and tuck, vending,
mid-morning break and after-school clubs.

The new standards                      Timetable for meeting the new
Interim food-based standards for       All schools from September 2006
school lunches (covered by the SFT

Food-based standards for school food All schools from September 2007
other then lunch

Nutrient-based standards for school    Primary schools from September

lunches                                 2008 at the latest
                                        Secondary and special schools
                                        from September 2009 at the latest

About the Interim Food-Based Standards for School Lunches

Who do the standards apply to?
   All local authority primary, secondary and special schools in England.
   All school lunch services, including hot and cold (packed lunch) services.

When should they start?
   September 2006.

Why are these new standards for lunch being introduced?
   The aim is to improve children‟s lunches by replacing junk food high in fat,
     sugar and salt with more nourishing food and drinks.
   The ultimate goal is to move children on to balanced meals containing
     sources of protein and starch, accompanied by lots of vegetables, salad
     and fruit.
   They should have a positive impact on children‟s health, help encourage
     them to eat more nutritious food and improve the quality of school food

Details of these standards and the other standards that will come into effect by
September 2009 can be found at Appendix Three.

Sustainability/Organic food /Fresh food

The School Meals Review Panel recommended that the procurement of food
served in schools should be consistent with sustainable development principles
and schools and caterers should look to local farmers and suppliers for their
produce where possible, tempered by a need for menus to meet the new
nutritional standards and be acceptable in schools.

We agree that this is an aim that schools and caterers should aspire to. The
DfES is currently consulting on its proposals for sustainable schools and its
proposal that by 2020 that we would like all schools to be models of healthy
schools, with local and sustainable food and drink produced and prepared on site
(where possible), with strong commitments to the environment, social
responsibility and animal welfare, and with increased opportunity to involve local
suppliers. A copy of the consultation document „Sustainable Schools‟ can be
found at: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations/

Currently, there is little competition in the school food market which is dominated
by three large firms. There are ways you can help to increase competition ahead
of re-letting a contract. These include:

       the duration of the contract. If it is too short the costs of the procurement
        will wipe out potential savings but it should not be too long in order to
        encourage innovation, flexibility and competition;
       engaging with suppliers far enough in advance to draft a specification that
        incentivises suppliers to work towards its objectives on cost, nutritional
        quality and sustainability;
       simplifying the procurement process and facilitating dialogue between
        producers and wholesalers;
       using criteria for monitoring the contract that are not based solely on cost
        but also include outcome measures (for instance on the quality of the
        meals provided, whether the food assured and the sustainability of the
        delivery chain). Further information on value for money is included in the
        DfES‟s related contract variation guidance and the National Audit Office
        report on „Smarter Food Procurement in the Public Sector:

Case Study - Lambeth Council

In 2004 Lambeth Borough Council reviewed its provision of school meals, which
at that time were delivered as part of a wider contract covering other services
such as grounds maintenance. The Council decided to remove the catering
element from the contract and put this out to tender as they and the 62 schools
covered by the contract considered the quality of the meals could be improved by
using a contractor with specialist catering expertise. The Council set up a
Schools Steering Group consisting of head teachers, bursars, governors and
parents to help develop the specification and to agree the criteria to be used in
awarding the contract (which were incorporated in the tender documents) with a
strong focus on the nutritional quality of the food to be provided. Assessment of
the bids included:
   Comparing sample menus against Nutritional Standards developed by the
    authority in the light of the national framework created by the Department for
    Education and Skills. Recipes were analysed to calculate the proportion of
    fresh food used.
   The extent to which bidders would offer access to specialist services such as
    dieticians, health and safety experts and buyers.
   Site visits to schools in other authorities, both with the bidder and
    independently, to look at the work of bidders in other schools, including
    examining their commitment to high nutritional content.

The contract was let in September 2004. Ongoing contract management and
performance monitoring is conducted on an „open book‟ basis, including joint tri-
annual audits of each school, where Council and contractor staff score the
service against a range of criteria including nutritional content, staff training, food
purchasing, storage, preparation, and health and safety. The Council has also
issued a Contracts Management Manual to schools setting out in an easy to use
format what they are entitled to and the procedures to be followed if problems
Uptake of school meals has already risen by 2 per cent across the borough and
is expected to continue to increase. While the overall cost has remained the
same, average spending on ingredients per meal has increased by 11p to 56p
per meal. Children, parents and teachers agree that standards of service and
nutritional quality have increased, reflected in the improved levels of satisfaction
reported in user surveys.

Defra‟s Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) is designed to help the
Government deliver its Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy which aims to
achieve a world-class sustainable farming and food sector that contributes to a
better environment and healthier and prosperous communities. The five priority
PSFPI objectives are:

   1. raise production and process standards;
   2. increase tenders from small and local producers;
   3. increase consumption of healthy and nutritious food;
   4. reduce adverse environmental impacts of production and supply;
   5. increase capacity of small and local suppliers to meet demand.

A PSFPI checklist from Defra‟s Catering Services and Food Procurement Toolkit
is at Appendix Four.

 Defra has identified the following priorities for public bodies in Part 2 of its PSFPI
 guidance for buyers and their internal customers. They should:
  i. as a baseline, require suppliers to meet appropriate assurance standards (e.g.
      Red Tractor scheme or equivalent);
  ii. operate in a way which takes account of the main sustainable development
       priorities set out in the Sustainable Food and Farming Strategy and elsewhere,
       which are:
                  Supporting local and regional economies
                  Resource efficiency (particularly energy use)
                  Reducing waste (particularly packaging)
                  Improving nutrition
 iii. make premium standard options available to consumers where there is scope to

    do so, e.g. in catering contracts. Organic products should be a priority here.
    Fairly traded goods should also be made available whenever possible.

PSFPI guidance for buyers and their internal customers – advice for public sector
bodies on integrating sustainable development into food and catering services
contracts – www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/pdf/foodprocure.pdf

Related objectives include: increase demand for organic food; improve choice for
ethnic minorities; reduce waste; better working conditions for catering staff; and
improve data collection and measurement of performance.

The objectives are listed hierarchically as it is recognised that there will be
circumstances where one may conflict with another.

Through the objective on healthy food the PSFPI supports the drive to improve school
meals. Another objective is to encourage public bodies to increase the opportunities
for small and local suppliers to compete to supply them with food. A complex, time
consuming process is likely to deter smaller organisations from applying for contracts.
Procuring organisations can quite often simplify their processes with no material effect
on the quality of the decisions made.

 Public bodies have a duty to secure value for money and so must ensure that the
measures they adopt to encourage more supplies of local food are proportionate and
justified. They are also required by the EC Treaty, the EC procurement directives and
the UK Regulations that implement them to ensure that public procurement is fair,
transparent and not used to discriminate by setting up barriers to free trade.

However, within this policy and legal framework they can inform local suppliers of
forthcoming contract opportunities and explain to them how the procurement process
works and what „s expected of them. There is also scope to specify more in-season
food, rather than out of season or exotic produce that can only be supplied from

More information about the PSFPI and working within the procurement rules is given
on Defra‟s web site at
http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/index.htm. As well as
providing guidance, tools and links to other sources of information, the website also
     Case studies

    Reports of the work undertaken in the regions, predominantly in schools


Schools and local authorities may want to consider introducing organic menus or
some organic produce. You will want to balance a range of considerations and
decide at a local level.

For contracted-out services, it can be made a requirement of the specification
that organic food should be provided. However, you may find that some of the
major contractors do not tend to favour organic or local sourcing as their
commercial models are based on their relationships with major food suppliers in
the UK and internationally.

Schools can obtain help on increasing opportunities for small and local producers
to tender to supply them with food from:

      their Government Office for the Region

      local Food Links organisation. Visit www.food-links-uk.org for more

The Soil Association‟s „Why Organic?‟ website also provides information and
access to a list of organic suppliers. Click here http://www.whyorganic.org

The National Farmers Union (NFU) which represents producers can provide
information and lists of suppliers. Visit www.nfuonline.com

Menu design

Menu design can be complex, particularly when considering the nutritional
benefits of school meals. The use of specially designed software will be required
to measure the nutritional content of menus. In local authority run and
contracted-out services, menu design can be monitored by the school. For in-
house services, menu design and monitoring rests with the school. It is good
practice to design menus to make use of seasonal fruit and vegetables.

The School Food Trust has developed some standard menus which will allow
schools and caterers to provide nutrient assurance without having to develop
menus from first principles. These are included in its guidance on the new
standards at: www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk

Encouraging take-up of school meals

Encouraging take-up of healthy food is a complex task, because ultimately the

pupils (particularly in secondary schools) have a choice about what to eat. Their
choices can be influenced by habit and by social, cultural, peer and parental
influence. Making the food attractive is obviously a key aspect. However, as
discovered in the Food in Schools Dining Room Environment pilots, providing
healthy food, improving the eating environment, keeping children in school during
the break, and eliminating queues are all also part of a package of measures that
can lead to sustainable change. It is very useful to involve parents and suppliers.

Access more information on Food in Schools at www.foodinschools.org
There are lots of ways to encourage take up and to reward healthy choice.

Case Study - Doncaster schools

 Cashless payment and reward systems

 Pupils using a new smart-card system of payment for school meals
 will automatically be rewarded via a points system if they choose
 healthy things to eat from the school canteen.

 These points will then be turned into free cinema tickets and money-off
 vouchers at the end of each term. Other rewards include family day tickets to
 the Earth Centre and free ice skating.

 The rewards follow the installation of high-tech smart-card systems, funded by
 the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. These are being piloted in three secondary
 schools, at Northcliffe, Hatfield High and Thorne Grammar schools.

 All the cards contain a computer chip which stores information, such as what
 type of meal has been purchased by the pupil. Key aspects of the scheme are:

       The healthier the option, the more points are scored
       League tables at the end of each term will then identify the pupils with
        the healthiest diets

 Annual loyalty cards will be given to the most healthy, allowing them free
 access to fitness suites and all leisure facilities across the borough.

There is clear evidence that providing healthy food in the context will increase
rather than reduce uptake.

Here are an interesting range of case studies from the Health Education Trust‟s
„best in class‟ case studies, in which the take up of information is particularly
highlighted. You can also click on the school name and go into the detailed case

studies, which provide plenty of helpful information on „how to do it‟ including
sample menus, approaches and lessons learned.

                            Health Education Trust – Best in Class
                                            Lethbridge was about to terminate its food service
                                            due to financial pressures, until two eager parents
Lethbridge Primary School                   decided to take action and establish a new and
                                            improved school meals service.
                                            Take-up - up from 10% - 40%
                                            St Peter‟s opted out of the Local Education Authority
                                            provisions to give greater freedom and flexibility for
St Peter‟s Church of England Primary        creativity, better food, better menus, complete
School                                      ownership for staff and for catering staff to feel part of
                                            the school.
                                            Take-up - up from 61% to 80%
                                            This very small rural primary school had no facilities
                                            to cook lunches on site, and has moved from a
                                            transported meals system (pre delegation of school
Wreay Church of England School              budgets), to creating a small kitchen to allow food to
                                            be cooked on site. Adopting a whole school approach
                                            has contributed to its success.
                                            Take-up - up from 50% - 100%
                                            A whole school approach helped this small school
                                            turn its catering system around by building a
Brampton Infant School                      functional kitchen. Meals were previously cooked off
                                            the premises.
                                            Take-up - up 10%
                                            This school changed to in-house catering run by a
                                            newly appointed chef and built new kitchen & dining
St Aidan‟s Church of England High School    facilities.

                                            Take-up increased by 600%

                                            This school set up a SNAG group, changed to in-
                                            house catering, altered menus and now educates
Barking Abbey School
                                            pupils to a healthier way of life.
                                            Take up - up 30% and increasing

                                            A cashless system is now in operation in this school
                                            to go alongside the new in-house catering service.
                                            Commercial      vending   machines    have     been
Warden Park School
                                            discontinued and a food committee was set up to
                                            include pupils.
                                            Uptake „substantially increased‟


In considering your school‟s direction and looking at your options, you will need

to assess your school‟s starting point. This will include:
     your current arrangements including, kitchen and dining facilities, length
       of school day, length of lunch period and the priorities you have set out in
       your whole school food policy and school improvement plan;
     your pupils and their parents - their desires and preferences, health and
       nutrition, take-up of school meals, the numbers eligible for/accessing free
       school meals;
     your community – its priorities, the availability of locally grown produce.
     your council – the quality of service and advice and support it offers, its
       priorities for local children and young people, and in relation to
     your local cluster of schools (including federations, clusters and education
       improvement partnerships) – the opportunities for working in partnership
       to develop the service;
     your access to staff who have existing catering and procurement skills
       and, if there are skills gaps, how these can be overcome.

Aggregating demand by increasing the co-operation among schools is a key
recommendation of the National Audit Office in their report “Smarter Food
Procurement in the Public Sector”, published in March 2006 available at
www.nao.gov.uk or


The following is an analysis of the main options, setting out the key issues, and
the general pros and cons of each. These are generic. In reality, all the options
can be very effective if well managed and resourced, and very unsatisfactory if
not. There are a number of issues to be taken into consideration in deciding
which is the best approach for your school and these are addressed in the next
section – section 6.

Option 1 - Service Provided Directly by the Local Authority

Key Issues

This is most common form of delivery (50% at the last major survey) and, before
the delegation of budgets, the standard form of delivery. The vast majority of
local authorities either provide a service or procure it from an external company.
The standard model is that the local authority is responsible for the full delivery of
the service, which it provides to the school under a service level agreement
(whether actual or implied).

Because the service is not provided by a contract between the school and the
local authority, it does not provide the same contractual protection against poor

performance as a contract. But this can be overcome, provided that there is a
robust service level agreement which sets out the roles and responsibilities of all
parties, including dealing with complaints.

Many services run on a nil subsidy basis and have to finance the provision
through the meal price or on the basis of a share of profits Primary schools on
the whole do not make a profit and are often subsidised by the local authority . If
the service is not well managed, there will be a pressure on quality to make ends
meet. This can lead to reductions in the amount spent on ingredients or other
shortcomings, for example, greater dependence on processed food to reduce
staff costs, and less investment in encouraging healthier food choices and
increased take-up.

Many local authorities are very proactive in supporting the direct service
organisation, and they may operate on a presumption that this is the preferred
delivery mechanism.

Points For
    The authority run school meals service is likely to provide the greatest
       economies of scale and have efficiencies that other services, provided on
       a smaller scale, are unable to achieve. It gives greater buying power for
       purchasing ingredients at better prices, and spreads the managerial
       overhead in areas such as menu planning across more meals. The local
       authority catering service is generally a non profit making organisation or
       returns the „profit‟ to schools.
    The local authority effectively takes away from the school the risk and
       responsibility for adherence to the wide range of external requirements,
       e.g. nutritional standards, health & safety, food hygiene, product
       assurance, marketing, training, cash collection, payroll and staff
    The service can respond to changing requirements without the need to
       vary a contract, though like any change, it will come at a price if it
       increases the cost base (e.g. increases to the cost of ingredients or a
       reduction in the pay back).
    Local authorities often have staff who visit schools and provide advice on
       healthy eating and 5 a day, as well as relevant educational material.
    Local authorities can ask their contractors to source more fresh and
       seasonal food which is assured and independently audited.

Points Against:
    Because the directly delivered services are usually a legacy from the time
       when all schools catering was provided in this way, schools may feel they
       are a „captive audience‟, with little real choice but to continue to get their
       service in this way. This is particularly true for the smaller primaries, who
       simply may not have the administrative capacity to source alternative
       provision and may not have the kitchen capacity.

       The other side of the economies of scale issue is the tendency for large
        suppliers to want to provide a very generic standard, which may not be
        flexible in responding to the different need of individual schools.

Case Study – Local Authority Catering – Warrington Council
 At Padgate High School in Warrington, you don't have to book ahead and you
 can get a two-course meal for under £2. There is a different specials board
 every day, the head chef has been trained by a top hotelier and the
 establishment has just won an international catering award.

 The head chef at the Insall Road School was one of the school cooks whose
 culinary preparations were observed by the judges. Mike Howard said: „We don't
 see ourselves as school dinners. We are much more like a restaurant with a
 wide range of options on the menu. Every day we have a different country
 featured. At the Chinese New Year, we had prawn crackers, chicken chow
 mein, sweet and sour pork and mushroom fried rice for the vegetarians.

 „We think of the children as customers and we listen to their requests. We are
 very careful to offer lots of healthy food. Breakfast is also served before lessons
 start and more than 500 of the 800 pupils eat here every day.‟

 Warrington School Meals Catering Service has just achieved one of the highest
 catering accolades in Europe. The hospitality quality assured accreditation has
 only been awarded to five other schools in Europe and is normally reserved for
 hotels and restaurants.

Option 2 - Service Provided by the Local Authority through a Contractor

Key Issues
Outsourcing services to professional catering companies allows local authorities
to concentrate on commissioning their services, through developing and
improving specifications, managing all the policy issues, including food standards,
monitoring the suppliers, and identifying and negotiating improvements. The
private caterers‟ expertise in food buying and marketing food in the dining
environment means that they should usually provide good value for money. Like
all contracting, the best outcomes are achieved through skilful buyers (i.e. the
Council in this case) specifying requirements clearly and comprehensively,
selecting the best supplier through a sound procurement exercise and then
monitoring the service to ensure that it delivers the specified service effectively.

Points For
    Catering companies often have greater expertise and experience in
       buying food than Council staff, and access to better deals.

      If supplied through an external contractor, the local authority takes
       responsibility for the complexities of procurement and contracting,
       including specifications.          The local authority also largely takes
       responsibility for contract monitoring.
      The local authority, for its part, passes off the risk of delivery to the
       contractor, and gives it greater clout in dealing with poor performance.
      Contractors can often offer lower prices to schools and there is a greater
       possibility of a return of profit to the school.

Points Against
    Dealing with dissatisfaction may be more difficult because it is the local
       authority and not the school that has the contract with the provider.
    Individual schools are dependent on the local authority „client‟ to act on
       their behalf. This „distance‟ between the provider and the school can
       make it less responsive to the needs of individual schools as opposed to
       the generality of schools, as expressed through the local authority.
    Contracting out in a changing landscape of changing requirements can
       leave the Council (and therefore schools) vulnerable to price increases.
    If not challenged by local authorities contractors often source the cheapest
       food regardless of its origin.

Case Study – Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

  Many local authorities and individual schools decommissioned their school kitchens
  over a number of years and simply do not have the equipment now to provide a
  cooked lunch service. The Royal Borough has always realised the importance of
  providing high quality school lunches and has invested to ensure that its kitchens
  could always produce quality home cooked foods.

  The specification for the school meals service is drafted for the Governing Body of
  each school by school meals specialists, nutritionists and dieticians, whilst taking on
  board the views of the pupils, parents and guardians. With 55 languages spoken in
  the schools there is a diverse ethnic population to provide for. The contracts are
  exacting, and the monitoring and auditing schemes are to food factory standards. The
  Council rejects and does not tolerate or pay for poor standards, and as a result the
  service is of a high quality.

  Heads of kitchen attend Thames Valley University one day a week for 30 weeks
  where they learn to continue to develop their skills and keep abreast of the healthy
  eating practises and procedures and understand the reasons that they have to carry
  out these practises. Chef trainers are also available for on site training.

  The introduction of Organic Food was one further step forward to continue improving
  the service. Twenty-two additives (including e-numbers) have been excluded from the
  school meals service for the past 15 years. The Council made the decision to
  introduce organic fruits, vegetables and milk products. The service is provided by two
  private contractors. These contractors are working closely with The Soil Association

  to source organic products. A few menus have had to be adapted as some organic
  products are not available as yet.

  The school meals budget was not increased to allow for this change – the Council
  simply reduced some of the menu options available. It has been „win-win‟, as with
  less choice the service is now speedier and so the children have a little more time to
  play. The Council also provides training for midday meals supervisors so they can
  help the pupils choose a balanced meal.

  A school can opt for a hot vegetarian and non-vegetarian dish or “finger” lunch menu.
  Home made milk and fruit based desserts and fresh fruit is available daily.

  The average food cost is 63p per meal and the charge for the meal is £1.85.

Option 3 - Outsourced by the School

Where there is no local authority school meals service, or the school decides that
it does not want to use it (whether provided directly or through a contract) and
does not feel it has the necessary skills and resources to provide an in-house
catering service, it may decide to outsource its meals service arrangements to a
private contractor.

Key Issues
Procurement is a complex business and can require knowledge of the EU and
TUPE regulations, as well as commercial skills in addition to an understanding of
the catering market. Large catering suppliers will inevitably be more experienced
in these areas than individual buyers in schools. The process itself takes time
and resources. These factors can be overcome, however, through getting advice
and support from the local authority or by appointing an external consultant. The
school meals service is inevitably a very significant spend item for schools and
external support can provide comfort and confidence prior to entering into a
contractual arrangement. See “Getting Advice” on page 27.

Because there is a burden of administration within this option, it is well worth
considering some form of collaboration with other schools in your area. If one
school is unhappy with current local authority provision, for example, it may well
be that neighbouring schools are too.

Case study – Braintree Primary Schools

 „When Essex County Council stopped arranging catering provision for their
 primary schools in April 2004, four primary schools in Braintree decided to
 work together to pool skills and knowledge of food safety, menu design and
 local sourcing. Recognising that meat purchases were a significant proportion
 of the budget, they worked together with East Anglia Food Link to identify and
 benchmark local producers. As a result local producers were contracted to
 supply pork sausages and beef burgers to all four schools. The producers
 agreed to tailor the products for the school meals market. The sausages were
 made longer to fit the baguettes and smaller burgers were produced to suit
 children‟s appetites.     The schools have benefited from streamlined
 procurement processes and reduced unit costs compared with what they
 would have achieved if they had procured separately. Nutritional quality has
 also improved with the use of fresh sausages and burgers with 100% beef

Points For
 The contractor takes full responsibility for the delivery of the service, including
   providing cover in the event of staff absence.
 It can provide more flexibility than dealing with one large supplier across the
   local authority, whether delivered directly or via a contractor.
 The risk and requirements of compliance with external requirements, such as
   nutritional standards, health and safety and staff management are passed to
   the contractor.

Points Against
 Procurement is a complex and time consuming activity – there may be
   insufficient internal skills or available resource. Procuring a small one-off
   contract may not provide the economies of scale that will provide best value
   for money.
 Getting external advice will come at a cost and need to be factored into the
 In a service where needs may change over a time (e.g. to comply with
   nutritional standards), an individual buyer is vulnerable to price variations
   (usually an increase), and may not have the skills to negotiate these

Option 4 - School Meals Provision – In-house

Key Issues
There are many issues to consider before managing your school meals service
in-house, and it is a big step to take responsibility for food services. Although the
school may relish the prospect of total control of the school meals provided, it will

at the same time take on a wide range of new responsibilities. The time it takes
to change the service will vary according to the expertise of the school personnel
and the availability of suitable suppliers.

The work required to provide a compliant service in terms of, for example,
financial control, staffing, menu planning, nutritional standards, food sourcing and
procurement is significant. Real challenges are presented to schools when they
set up their in-house services and commence trading in isolation. You will need
to ensure that you have access to advice from, or appoint someone with, a good
understanding of the food and catering market.

Some of the key issues and responsibilities for provision of an in-house service
        Personnel – recruitment and supervision of catering staff, and
         providing cover during absences;
        There may be a TUPE staff transfer;
        Payroll – payment to staff on an agreed frequency including pension
         contributions, annual leave entitlement and statutory sick pay;
        Training – compliance with legislation and expected levels of
         qualifications required, including on-going personal and professional
        Budget Preparation – monitoring spend against targets, including free
         school meals provision;
        Cash Collection – including open book accounting principles. You will
         want to know how the prices paid for ingredients or services compare
         to those paid by comparable peer organisations;
        Equipment – repairs and maintenance, purchasing and scheduling its
         replacement. In addition to addressing future requirements, it may be
         that your existing contract involved the contractor in investing in
         equipment – check if there are any compensation provisions for early
        Marketing – image and promotional activity;
        Procurement - of foodstuffs, equipment at the right price and quality;
        Ensure that food is of high quality with assurances as to its origin;
        Menu Planning - to meet Government nutritional guidelines, healthy
         eating recipes and best practice as well as curriculum activity;
        Ordering and Invoicing - placing orders with suppliers and making
        Legislative Compliance - Health & Safety including Food Hygiene,
         Food Act and ensuring the kitchen and dining areas are fit for purpose.

Despite the complexities, there are now many schools that have successfully set
up their own service or have always had an in-house service. Research also
indicates an increasing number of schools intending to go down this path. The
following links provide some interesting case studies;


Points For
 The school takes full control and can respond to the precise needs of the
   school, the children, parents and the wider school community. It is also
   particularly flexible in supporting whole school food policy approaches.
 Schools have been able to consider environmental, economic and social
   sustainability in food sourcing including sourcing food locally, which also
   contributes to the health of the local economy.
 There are many successful examples of schools running their services in-
   house and anecdotal evidence of satisfaction with the outcome. There are
   also many interest groups providing resources and support for schools taking
   this course, including food links, Defra, the Soil Association,NFU and many

Points Against
 There are a number of examples of schools experiencing difficulties running
   the service who are considering returning or have returned to a local authority
 The issues are complex and running a meals service is a big responsibility.
   The work required to provide a compliant service from menu planning to
   health and safety is significant. Real challenges are presented to schools
   when they set up their in-house services and commence trading in isolation.
 The school has to take all the risk of delivering a service, including being able
   to cover for staff absences.

Case Study - Icknield High School, Luton

David Lucas was trained as a chef at the Savoy Hotel in London, and is now chef
at the school. On first starting at the school, he decided not to use the old recipes
that the school had, but to use his trained expertise to rewrite the recipe book
and to provide quality meals for the children. He runs the school kitchen as he
would a top restaurant. On his arrival the kitchen staff were initially reluctant to
change their ways of working, but he persuaded them to give his way a go and if
it didn‟t work, or they didn‟t like it, they would revert back to their normal working
practice. The changes he made were phased in and they have never looked

Since his arrival at the school the high turn over of kitchen staff has stopped and
now he has a list of people who want to work for him. The staff (both teaching
and non-teaching), enjoy the meals that are now available and they sit with the
children to eat them. The children enjoy the new menu and are willing to try new
food. If they are unsure if they will like a certain food they can try a small taster,
without paying. They then know whether they like it or not next time it‟s on the

David manages to buy his produce at a local level, and gets the good quality of
food he requires to produce good, tasty and nutritious meals. He uses a good
butcher, fish monger, farm shop and a competitive dry goods supplier. He uses
seasonal produce to complement many of his dishes, and prepares tasty salads,
relishes, coleslaws and beetroot. He caters for the vegetarians and prepares
food so that it is interesting, tasty and nutritious. He manages to do all of this with
the money he is allocated and does not go over budget. The school even makes
its own bread.


Whichever option you choose, there are a number of implementation issues to
consider. These include:

Spending on the school meals service

Following publicity about the poor quality of school meals many schools and local
authorities are considering raising the spending on each meal. Ingredient spend
currently ranges widely between 37p and 70p plus for an average meal.

Whilst it is important to look at the price of ingredients, this is not the only
determinant of food quality, nor should it be seen as a proxy for it. „Value for
money‟ and cost visibility are important considerations. „Value for money‟ does
not necessarily mean the cheapest. It is important for you to understand how the
price is made up. Some processed foods are more expensive than fresh, as the
price will include the cost of processing. Some providers are more able to provide
economies of scale which will lower the price of ingredients. Some caterers are
better at developing healthy meals from the same ingredients, so menu design
and methods of cooking are of equal importance to cost. You also cannot
assume that fresh, more expensive food will necessarily have a higher nutritional
content than frozen food. You can find more information on value for money and
cost     visibility in    the    Department‟s   „Contract    variation  guidance‟

Budgetary considerations

Income to a school meals service comes from the charges for the meals sold,
also from the local council‟s subsidy (if there is one) and allowances for free
school meals. In addition, some schools either get a pay back from the local
authority where income exceeds expenditure, or from the catering company
where a pay back is part of the pricing model.

Part of the school‟s delegated budget is a contribution towards the provision of
meals, and comprises a basic amount determined by the size of the school and a

variable amount determined by the number of free and paid-for school meals
provided. Some Councils provide extra funding where schools face particular
difficulties (or may subsidise primaries but not secondaries). Hull City Council
provides free meals for all children, under the Power to Innovate scheme, though
this is unique at present and will end in May 2007.

Schools set the price of paid-for meals themselves, but need to bear in mind that
any increase to cover additional expenditure can also impact adversely on take-
up. Similarly, any increase in take-up of meals will increase income, and can be
used to cover fixed costs and to allow increased spending on ingredients and

Having a cashless system reduces administration and queues, and increases
uptake, though may have an up front cost to schools for set up (see below).

Selling books of vouchers is another way of reducing administration while
maintaining choice. Vouchers can help avoid the stigma sometimes felt by
children taking free school meals.

Cashless Payment systems

Short lunch breaks and the resultant queues detract from the quality of the eating
experience and its sociability. They also reduce take-up because of children‟s
reluctance to spend a significant proportion of the break period in queues.
Schools should consider a range of features around the school break, including
the possibility of staggering it. They may also wish to consider the benefits of a
cashless service in improving throughput. These systems can operate with swipe
cards which the children offer to the catering staff at the „till‟. The swipe cards
contain credits which have been paid for in advance by parents or carers, and
will receipt and record the child‟s details as well as details and cost of the food
purchased by the pupil. The systems will also provide a receipt to the pupil. A
cashless system can help avoid the stigma sometimes felt by children taking free
school meals. These systems are not foolproof in that children sometimes lose or
forget their cards, and they may need to be replaced.

In addition the system will provide the caterer with a breakdown of all food
purchased at a lunchtime. This information is very useful in relation to menu
planning and determining how much food is required.

In some areas, cashless systems are being funded by the local authority or the
caterer but in other areas schools have to pay, and it can cost between £20,000
and £40,000 to set up.

Working alongside other schools

There are many benefits of collaborating with other local schools to make the
best use of resources. Often supported by the local authority, these networks

can take the form of action zones, clusters and federations. The DfES recently
launched a prospectus for Education Improvement Partnerships which builds on
the concept of schools clusters.
Education Improvement Partnerships prospectus

If other schools in your network are willing to collaborate to assess the best
option for local school meals services, this may be a practical way of making
good use of time and resources.

For contracted out and council-run services, your network may be able to:

          jointly procure the service, saving time and sharing costs, particularly if
           you are going to get external support;
          work jointly to monitor the contract, giving greater weight to the voice of
           the users. It would be useful to set up some form of management
           board to assign roles and responsibilities for contract management
           between the members

For in-house services, your network of schools may be able to:
        share the skills and time of catering and office staff, for example, in
          menu design or budgeting;
        work together with suppliers across the cluster to negotiate better
          deals and meet minimum order levels, and source a range of local
        organise training or share skills learnt from training.

As in all collaborative arrangements, roles and relationships need to be set out
clearly. It is also worth asking the local authority for support – they are usually
keen to support such arrangements.

Staffing implications and TUPE arrangements

Any change in provision can have staffing implications. Where there is a transfer
of an „undertaking‟ (a discrete business) from one provider to another, TUPE
operates to automatically transfer staff who are wholly or mainly involved in the
undertaking to the new provider, on the same terms and conditions. This is an
important principle, and a complicated area of law to describe simply, as it is
highly dependent on the facts in individual cases. However, schools need at
minimum to be aware that if their dissatisfaction with the school meals services is
rooted in the perceived quality of the catering staff, and this leads to a decision to
go out to contract, this may only serve to transfer the staff to the alternative
provider. It is much better to deal with the problem through the Service Level
Agreement or the contract mechanism of the current provider.

TUPE law has been strengthened in recent years to cover not only the terms and
conditions of transferring staff, but also those taken on after the transfer, who

must also be employed on similar terms, including pensions, if applicable. This
has implications for specifications and contract. A helpful summary of the
guidance can be found here on the Employers Organisation website at

Getting advice

Research and consultation has shown that there is sometimes uncertainty,
particularly among Head Teachers and bursars, about where to secure practical
advice and support.

   Start with the local authority

Many local authorities provide excellent advice for schools, and have dedicated
Education Client teams (that go by different names in different local authorities),
many with qualified catering professionals responsible for specifications, menu
design, procurement and contract management. Schools have also found them
very supportive, either when they have wanted to go it alone or to enter into a
single school contract. However, a number of factors may cause difficulties here:

       -   some schools may not have confidence in their local authority, for
           whatever reason;
       -   if schools are not satisfied with the food service provided by the local
           authority and have failed to remedy this with the local authority
           provider, there may be a „conflict of interest‟ for the local authority in
           supporting the provider and advising the school. Schools may feel that
           they cannot get independent advice from the local authority in these
       -   because budgets are delegated, schools may have to pay the local
           authority for anything but the most basic advice, depending on the
           school buy back package. There is no consistent practice across local
           authorities about the level, cost or quality of support offered to schools.
           Some run a genuine brokerage, others only a contract
           liaison/monitoring role for the local authority catering provider.

Of the local authorities we consulted, most will provide support to schools in
securing an external contract for modest fees (at cost), but one charges full
consultancy rates, which many of its schools are reluctant to pay.

In terms of practical advice in seeking changes or improvements to directly
delivered local authority services, there will always be a lead „client‟ in the local
authority. Many clients have catering and procurement professionals who can
liaise with the catering service to resolve problems

      Case Study - East Barnet School

      The school had been contracted to a private caterer, paying a significant management
      fee and a share of the „profits‟. The contract started well but, as time went on, the school
      felt that it needed to have a more direct handle on the quality of food provided, standards
      of hygiene and the management of staff.

      As the contract was due for termination, the head teacher, bursar and governors carefully
      considered the options and decided to take the service in-house. They sought advice
      from the local authority who supported the school throughout the process in a way the
      school described as „brilliant‟.

      The existing staff transferred to the school under TUPE regulations. The head cook
      decided to leave and the school appointed two professionally trained chefs.

      Because the school has gained the income and profit previously paid to the contractor, it
      can now afford to purchase the fresh ingredients it now largely uses (including
      vegetables from Covent Garden market) and was able to provide the general assistants
      with a sizeable pay increase from the very low level they were on.

      The school now has a very satisfactory meals service and also has the extended benefit
      that, as NVQ4 Assessors, the new chefs are able to offer training to the catering staff, the
      school‟s vocational catering course and work experience students.

   Catering Consultants

If the local authority school support service is not regarded as suitable, there are
a number of small and medium sized independent catering consultants. Your
local authority or local Food Links organisation may be able to recommend one.
Some schools have found their own consultants through networking which is
possibly the best way as the school can speak directly with those who have used
the consultants and feel that they can recommend them. Specialist catering
consultants are also contactable through the Foodservice Consultants Society
International (FCSI), a professional body located at www.fcsi.org.uk

Catering consultants can be very expensive for individual schools but the NAO
found that significant savings can be made by making good use of external
expertise. (See page 36 of the NAO report “Smarter Food Procurement in the
Public Sector”: www.nao.org.uk/publications/naoreports )

Case Study – Deansbrook Primary School

The school was concerned about:

       Poor quality of school meals
       Lack of nutritional value
       Low take-up of meals
       Lack of expertise of current catering staff and poor training
       Back up resources provided by previous provider in times of catering staff absences

 Deansbrook wanted to find an alternative caterer but there were two main obstacles to doing
 The cost of financing the competitive tendering process was prohibitive
 The process would be enormously time-consuming for the head teachers and rather
    daunting as well

Deansbrook resolved these difficulties by using a company to advise the school and,
crucially, to finance the transfer costs. The company worked on behalf of the school to ensure
that the new catering contract was uniquely tailored for the school‟s individual, specific
requirements. It worked with the school whilst keeping the head teacher‟s involvement to a

Some of the main benefits seen by the school are:

   The menu is tailored to the specific dietary requirements of the school;
   A high proportion of freshly cooked meals is provided;
   Good quality ingredients are used;
   The caterer works closely with the school on an ongoing basis to refine the service and
    respond to the changing needs of the pupils and staff;
   Uptake has improved by 10%;
   A profit is made by the school on every meal sold (without having raised the cost to pupils)
    – money which is ploughed back into the school‟s own budget.

The Head teacher said:
„Our monitoring systems indicate that the food is much more varied, is fresher and always
looks appetising. The catering staff appear to have more job satisfaction and are extending
their knowledge and skills on a regular basis. Overall I am very pleased with the improvement
in provision.‟

   Organic/Green/ Direct service provision by school

The Soil Association (http://www.soilassociation/foodforlife) provides a wealth of
experience and support for those seeking to explore issues relating to organic or
locally sourced foods in particular.

Food Links are a network of some 18 organisations active in supporting the local
food sector and working towards fairer, healthier more sustainable local food
systems. A number, including East Anglia Food Link have been particularly
active in school food. http://www.foodlinks-uk.org/fluk_membs.asp

The National Farmers Union can be very helpful in signposting local authorities
and schools to local and regional producers and can also advise on the different
farm assurance schemes.

The nine regional government offices have rural advisers and food chain groups
who can advise on completed case studies and potential suppliers.

   National Bursars Association (NBA)

The NBA is the largest professional organisation for bursars, school business
managers, senior administrators from all types and categories of schools.

Membership provides support, advice local and regional networks, as well as
access to its accredited qualification, the NBA National Registration Scheme.


   School Food Trust

The School Food Trust was set up in 2005 to promote the education and health
of children and young people by improving the quality of food supplied and
consumed in schools. The Trust has set itself four key goals over the next three

    1. Ensure all schools meet the food based and nutrient based standards for
       lunch and non-lunch food
    2. Increase the uptake of school meals
    3. Reduce diet-related inequalities in childhood through food education and
       school based initiatives
    4. Improve food skills through food education, and school and community


   Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative

The PSFPI website contains: guidance, case studies, tools and links to other
sources of information that can help schools pursue health and sustainability
considerations in their procurement of food and catering services. Some funding
is also provided under the initiative for Government Offices for the Regions to run
workshops for buyers and suppliers, and pilots to develop local supply networks
– many into schools.


   Managing catering operations to reduce environmental impacts and costs

There is significant scope for increasing the energy and water efficiency of
catering operations. Separate metering is an important first step (although
smaller organisations will need to balance the potential savings against the
installation costs). Savings can also be made by only lighting ovens and grills
when they are needed and installing water efficient taps. Working with suppliers
to reduce packaging and combining deliveries also helps.


   Healthy School Partnerships

Every local authority has formed a partnership with its Primary Care Trust(s) -
PCTs – and the Partnership manages the Local Healthy Schools Programme.
Each of the 150 LEAs in England has such a Programme. To contact your local
healthy schools programme coordinator look at www.lhsp.org


Once the school has decided on its preferred option, it may want to further
assess which of these options is best by considering the practicalities of each
option. This section looks at the practicalities of implementing each of the main
options. The school will want to consider these issues against its diagnosis of
where it is now and the pros and cons of where it wants to be.

Option 1 - Direct Local Authority provision

If the school chooses to use (or return to) the local authority service, it is
essential that a Service Level Agreement (akin to a contract) is developed. This
will be drafted by the authority and signed by the school. Without it, the school
cannot monitor the service or challenge poor performance effectively. The Food

Standards Agency found a high level of direct provision where there was no
documentation of this kind1.

The Service Level Agreement should set out the standards of service expected
to be provided and the agreement between the authority and schools in terms of
individual roles and responsibilities. It should cover the following areas, clearly
describing both the nature and standards of the provision:

             the provision of a fully committed catering service delivery team with
              dedicated management support;
             full compliance with legislation, including food hygiene legislation, and
              nutritional standards, the local authority‟s school food policies and the
              financial, procurement, and other requirements that go with providing a
              school meals service;
             a service with food options which will meet (or exceed) the statutory
              standards, perhaps also with proportions of fresh, local or other
             the design of menus to be agreed with the headteacher and governing
              body, catering for religious, cultural, and other diversity of food choice
              and in keeping with the school‟s ethos, and food policy;
             catering staff who are well motivated and trained on an ongoing basis
              to continuously improve the provision of school food;
             any proposed innovation and marketing of school food, especially
              healthy options, including involvement in curriculum activities;
             a robust financial control system for collecting and banking school
              meals monies and accounting for costs in line with open book
             its approach to quality assurance and what mechanisms it will have in
              place to ensure this;
             key performance indicators which will allow the school to measure and
              monitor the standards of school food;
             its approach to monitoring school food provision against the statutory
              standards with regular reports to the head/governors and with a formal
              report once a term.

The school should ensure that each area properly reflects its general and unique
requirements, within the scope of what the local authority can agree.

Option 2 - Local Authority Provision via External Contractor

The practical implications of this option are much the same as for local authority
direct provision. If you decide to go with the local authority and its service is
provided through a contractor, you will not be offered a choice.

    „School Meals in Secondary Schools in England‟ Survey (Food Standards Agency /DfES (2004).

As the contract is with the local authority, you will still need a service level
agreement with the local authority, which now has the role as „Client‟ to the
contractor, and as an „agent‟ for the school. The quality and strength of the
relationship is very dependent on the procurement and contract management
skills of the client, and it needs to be underpinned by the clarity of roles and
responsibilities set out in the service level agreement.

Option 3 - Outsourced by the School

The key issues for a school to consider when outsourcing your catering
arrangements are:
       staffing implications - there may be an automatic TUPE for transfer of
        the catering staff to the new contractor (see section 6 on TUPE);
       ensuring that appropriate tendering documentation is drawn up with
        supporting legal advice and guidance;
       output specifications must be produced and other contract
        documentation such as the invitation to tender, the pricing schedule
        and a draft contract;
       formal questions will be prepared for bidders to answer in their
        tenders on how they will meet the specification;
       there will need to be a clear understanding of the pricing model (see
        next section on contracting);
       the school should be clear about the length of contract agreement and
        ensure appropriate termination clauses are included;
       the school will need to consider how the contract will be monitored and
       contractors‟ expertise and ability to provide food safety, sourcing,
        traceability, quality assurance and nutritional standards will be

Schools should also note that the European Union (EU) procurement directive,
Directive 2004/18/EC, and the Regulations that implement them in the UK, the
Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (S.I. 2006/05), set out the law on public
procurement. Their purpose is to open up the public procurement market and to
ensure the free movement of goods and services within the EU.

The rules apply to certain purchases by public bodies which are above certain
monetary thresholds. Where the Regulations apply, public bodies must follow the
rules set out in the procurement directive and the Regulations.

If the procurement directive and the Regulations do not apply in respect of a
procurement EU Treaty based principles of non-discrimination, equal treatment,
transparency, mutual recognition and proportionality apply and it is likely that
some degree of advertising, appropriate to the scale of the contract, is likely to be
necessary to demonstrate transparency.

Process for Contracting Out the School Meal Service

There are several steps to take in contracting out the school meal service which
will ensure you get the best deal for your school whilst making sure you meet the
procurement regulations.

We are very aware that for most governors, head teachers and bursars, this is
likely to be the one of the more complex procurement projects you are likely to be
involved in. We therefore strongly suggest that you use this guidance and its
links to support you in developing a working understanding of the issues.

However, we also strongly recommend that you do not follow this course without
seeking expert advice from the Council or an independent party. In addition to
advice, you may also need practical support. These processes involve both
complex areas of law and a regulatory environment that is not easily accessible
to the lay person, i.e. TUPE and other employment provisions, the [EU
procurement requirements], health & safety and so on.

This is particularly critical if the value of the contract means that it falls within the
threshold for the application of the EU procurement directives. If the value of a
contract is likely to exceed £144,371 over its lifetime, then there are a range of
legal requirements relating to notice and process that must be followed. The
Office of Government Commerce‟s website provides details of current thresholds
that vary over time – www.ogc.gov.uk/index.asp?docid+397

These steps are summarised below, but for more details you can go to Defra‟s
Catering Service and Food Procurement Toolkit, a comprehensive guide at

1. Agreeing your requirements - Before you enter into the process of contracting
out you will have assessed that contracting out is the right method for your
school or network of schools.

2. Advertising - All schools need to make sure that there is open competition for
their contracted-out services and that there is no discrimination in the process.
They will also wish to attract the interest of the broadest range of potential
suppliers who may be suitable to be involved in the competitive procurement
process. Schools can place an open advert in the appropriate trade journals or
research the supply market and prepare a short-list of those interested. The most
popular journals are „Catering Weekly‟ and „Caterer and Hotelkeeper‟. For
producers the most appropriate journals are The Grower, Farmers Weekly, Fresh
Produce Journal and the Farmers Guardian.

If the contract is subject to the EU directives, it will also need to be advertised in

the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union). The rules about the structure
of the advertisement, submission requirements and the elapsed time between
the publication and the closing date for expressions of interest, are strictly laid
down. Ask your local authority for assistance, or use your external consultants.

3. Shortlisting - If you have placed an open advert you will then want to send a
questionnaire to interested applicants so that you can select a short-list. This will
allow you to get the numbers down to a manageable level and to select what
appear to be the applicants that appear best placed to provide what you require.
An accountant will need to assess the financial capacity of the short-list. You
should be able to secure this assistance through the local authority.

5. Invitation to Tender - This provides details of the kind of service you would
want the contractor to provide and is sent to the caterers on your short-list. It
includes details about the school, the school food policy, your aspirations for the
service and the specification (see example at Appendix five) and a draft contract
as well as historical take up, free school meals and ethnicity.

6. Choosing how to pay - It is very important to pick the right payment method.
Because a number of elements of a schools meals service are not certain, e.g.
cost of food, level of uptake (and therefore income), and there is limited control
over them (for example, the children will continue to exercise „consumer choice‟),
you will need to decide who will accept the risk (or share it). At one end of the
spectrum, fixed price transfers the risk to the contractor, but the contractor will
need some contingency (cost) to cover this exposure, and will also want more of
a free hand to market and therefore increase income. At the other end of the
spectrum, „cost plus‟ means that the school takes most of the risk, because it
accepts all costs and pays a management fee. The benefit is that the school can
retain more control over the service.

The other critical feature of price is to ensure that whatever approach you take,
there is absolute transparency in the financial model and the contractor is
required to be explicit about the assumptions being made and state clearly what
is and what is not included in the price.

This is one of the areas where expert advice can help you make an informed

                                      PRICING MODELS
    1. Nil Subsidy: the cost of the service has to be covered by the income (i.e. the meal

    2. Fixed Price: the annual charge is fixed over the period of the contract, and can only
       change if there is a significant change in requirements. The contractor takes a risk on
       take-up, income and costs, and may also include a contingency premium. In order to
       accept this level of risk, the contractor would also expect to have much more control
       over key elements of the service that affect their costs, such as opening hours, menu
       content, food sourcing,       vending machines and pricing. Significant changes to
       requirements are negotiated as variations. In general terms, fixed price contracts are
       most suitable where the requirements are relatively stable and major changes are not
       foreseen. They have caused difficulties in school meals contracts where Councils and
       schools have changed requirements to respond to the „healthy eating‟ agenda.

    3. Cost Plus: the contractor manages the service on behalf of the local authority/school and
       charges the actual costs (food, equipment etc), plus a management fee (profit). There is
       little incentive in this model for the contractor to manage costs, but the local
       authority/school retains control over most aspects of the service. Because they transfer
       little risk to the contractor over cost in particular, they are not generally used these days
       for outsourced contracts, but are sometimes the basis of local authority directly delivered

    4. Cost Plus (with Incentives/Guarantees): this is similar to fixed price in that the
       contractor underwrites any additional costs over the agreed budget, but only up to a
       fixed proportion (say 20%) of their management fee. For anything beyond that, the local
       authority/school pays the additional cost, but the contract will also usually provide for
       termination at the local authority/school‟s discretion (with reasonable notice) or the option
       to require the contractor to vary what is provided. The incentives can come in the form of
       sharing savings on costs if these are below budget. The contractor may also be required
       to put part of their profit at risk against how well it performs, as measured by objective
       qualitative and customer satisfaction measures. Good contract management is required

    5. Concession: where services have traditionally traded on a profit making basis (mainly in
       secondary schools), the contract price can be constructed on the basis of a fixed „return‟
       of profit to the school, plus a share of any additional profit over and above this. The
       contractor will need to have control over elements of the service as in the fixed price
       option, because their „return‟ and therefore the tender is predicated on assumptions
       relating to sales. [Check on FCSI comment]

7. Evaluating Submissions and Interviews - you need to select a contractor that
has the ability to provide the quality of service that you require and offers best
value for money. Each proposal should be assessed against your selection
criteria. It would normally be on the basis of „the most economically
advantageous offer‟, rather than just on price, as you will want to differentiate

   between tenders on price, quality and expertise.

   An accountant or procurement expert will need to analyse the financial models of
   each tender. This will compare the costs on a like-for-like basis and ensure that
   there is clarity and transparency. You may also wish to meet the bidders or ask
   them to make a presentation, to support and clarify the tender proposals.
   The evaluation criteria will need to be drawn up to reflect the requirements and
   priorities of the school and will need to be weighted in terms of priority.

eThe The evaluation criteria will relate to the feasibility, quality and relevance of the
     tender proposals as demonstrated by the following:

           Understanding of the school‟s key issues, as set out in the specification and
            the proposals to respond to them
           The contribution to delivering the school‟s whole school food policy
           Quality and resilience of the proposals for managing of the service, as set
            out in the Management Plan
           The approach to TUPE staff transfer, and staff development [if relevant]
           Financial viability of the tender proposal, including:

                    financial robustness of the bidder
                    value for money of the tender proposals
                    robustness of the financial proposals
                    financial viability of the tender proposal, including:

           Contractors‟ expertise and ability to provide food safety, sourcing,
            traceability, quality assurance and nutritional standards.

   8. Contractual Issues- The school will need a draft contract. It should be able to
   access a standard draft service contract and advice on completing it from the
   local authority, or to get a referral to a suitable lawyer. A local solicitor is unlikely
   to understand the complexities of a public service contract, for example TUPE.
   You may be required to use the Council‟s standard contract by the Council‟s
   Standing Orders. You should resist using the contractor‟s standard contract as
   these will be written from the perspective of the supplier and not the school. As a
   buyer, it is the schools right to provide it.

   Key elements of a sound contract

   There is no such thing as a model contract, as each will depend on the
   circumstances. However, there are some key areas which you should carefully


A service contract normally consists of clauses covering a variety of generic
issues such as duration, liability, termination, dispute resolution and indemnities.
It will also need to include the new nutritional standards. Some will need to be
refined to reflect the school‟s requirements including, for example, conserving
energy and water, minimising waste and other sustainability issues. In addition,
there will be a number of schedules, which contain service specific elements.
These will usually include the specification, the contractor‟s Management Plan
(how they undertake to provide the service), the payment schedules, and
sometimes others. The following is a range of issues which should be addressed
to ensure that the contract is robust and the school appropriately protected in
ensuring it gets the service it wants, and has remedies if the service is

   Specification
The specification defines the school‟s requirements and should be largely output
based, setting out the scope of services (what is to be provided), the standards
which need to be achieved (the quality and level of service and policies to be
followed) and the key performance indicators (how achievement will be
measured). It should explicitly refer to the school‟s food policy and require
adherence to it, and clearly set out the food requirements e.g. minimum
standards, proportion of fresh food or locally sourced food required.

The specification should also set out issues such as the ethnic and cultural
requirements including volumes of pupils in different ethnic groups and
arrangements for assuring food content meets ethnic food rules. You may wish
to specifically ban certain products or product types. There are some very useful
model specification clauses on a range of topics set out in the Defra Public
Sector Food Procurement Initiative procurement tool-kit that schools may wish to
consider. The location in the toolkit and the broad heading of what it covers are
as follows, and they can be found at the link below:

PSFPI Toolkit Appendix 2 - Annex 1 - Information to assist writing specification

A. Raising Production and Process Standards: Food assurance schemes
(including organic)
B. Increasing opportunities for small and local producers
C. Healthy and Safe Food:
       1) Healthy and nutritious food
       2) Food safety, including food hygiene
D. Environmental impacts:
E. Ethnic minority, cultural and religious diets
F. Biodiversity

G. Fair treatment of suppliers, including promoting fair trade
H. Working conditions for catering staff
I. Marketing and merchandising
J. Training and Monitoring


A sample specification is contained at Appendix Five.

   The Management Plan
 When you send out the invitation to tender, including the specification and draft
contract, you should also ask bidders to submit a Management Plan describing
how they propose to manage the service over the period of the contract. It
should set out a range of questions for the bidder to respond to. The
Management Plan will form one basis for evaluating the different bids. It then
becomes part of the contractor‟s legal obligation when the contract is signed. It is
here, for example, that you would expect the bidder to set out clearly how they
will provide a service that conforms with your food policy. Looking ahead are
bidders able to take part in e tendering and paperless invoicing.

    Pricing model
It is critically important that you get bidders to set out their financial model clearly,
so that if changes are needed in future, the original price is clear and you can
assess any proposed price variations. This should expose their assumptions and
what their price is based on. Organisations can pay significantly different prices
for the same food items, sometimes without good reason. By increasing your
knowledge of the prices typically paid for particular goods and services (for
example by sharing information or by using a price benchmarking service) you
can improve your ability to act as an intelligent customer and to negotiate better
deals. Before signing a contract both parties need to agree the basis of any price

Financial Model - schools may find the financial model helpful when determining
the different costs associated with provision of a school meals service. It can be
used for either fixed cost or cost plus, depending on the schools requirements

INCOME (ex VAT)                                                   Detail
Food sales                      Can break down further into separate commodities or types of food sales
                                (i.e. breakfast club / mid morning tuck shop / lunch)
Vending                         Would be cash from machines and royalties
Other                           „Catch all‟ (could be out of school clubs / events / advertising)

VARIABLE                        Expect most operations to work to cover these costs
EXPENDITURE                     and contribute towards fixed expenditure
Salaries & wages – kitchen
& dining
Food costs (based on            Cost of supplies
estimates of number of
meals & Free School
Vending costs
Cleaning materials
Laundry & uniforms
Light Catering Equipment
Heavy Duty Equipment
Energy / Utility Costs          Could be broken down further to separate electricity / gas / water
Other expenses                  „Catch all‟ – could be phones and travel etc


Salaries – office &
managerial and on-costs
(NI, Insurance etc)
Repairs & renewals
Once per year heavy duty
TOTAL FIXED COSTS               These vary within the three income groups - depending on what
                                fixed costs can be set against the catering account

NET PROFIT                      If achieved, could be used for inward investment

   Variants
If you wish to consider options, it may be worth requiring bidders to quote for a
„variant‟ as well as a standard service. It gives the opportunity to understand the
real implications of different service levels in a competitive situation and to
understand the different costs of different service levels. It may well also be that
a smaller caterer can more easily respond to the higher specification for
example. The school then has the opportunity to select either the standard bid or
the variant.

   Variations
All contracts need to make provision for material variations in requirements. This
is to take account of something unforeseen at the start of the contract or to take
account of changes in the law, regulations, relevant policy guidance or good
practice. Whilst all service contracts should require the contractor to respond to
changes in requirements, some will need to be by agreement, because they are
discretionary and the contractor may be either unable or unwilling to respond.

However, schools‟ catering operates in a highly regulated environment and some
changes to requirements will be mandatory in order to conform with the law. The
contract should specify a requirement to conform to the law, changes in
regulations, government policy, relevant local authority policies, and DfES
guidance related to the services, including nutritional standards.

The contract also needs to specify that the cost of variations must always be by
reference to actual and demonstrable additional net costs. The Department has
produced separate Contract Variation Guidance which can be found at:

   Termination and Defaults
All contracts need to set out the grounds for termination. Contract termination is a
drastic remedy and should not be used except as a last resort. It will involve a
significant burden of sourcing alternative provision. The contractor also needs
protection against arbitrary termination without good reason. Therefore, good
contracts set out a range of remedies for poor performance which should be
used first, operating on the principle of „try to fix it first‟. Remedies should include
provisions for managing complaints, for resolving disputes, for defaults (price
reductions) for failing to meet standards, and if the contractor fails to improve,
then there should be a process for moving towards the option to terminate.

It is usual for termination in relation to poor performance to set out what level of
performance would lead to termination.

Contract Management and Monitoring

Effective contract management is a vital and often neglected part of the
procurement process. Procurement does not end when the contract is awarded.
Unless pro-active and professional contract management takes place, even the
best specified and procured contracts can fail to deliver. Effective contract
monitoring requires good management information and two-way communication
between the school and the contractor. This can help to:

      ensure that the contractor has fully met its obligations under the contract;
      identify any opportunities for improving the contractor‟s performance, e.g.
       increasing the take up of meals;
      forecast future trends or needs; and
      establish the point at which any deductions can be made.

Using Self Reporting by the Contractor

The Contractor should be required as part of its Management Plan to indicate
how it will support the school in the contract management process through its
own quality assurance processes. This should include how it will provide
information and report on its own performance and provide monthly reports to the
school. It is very important for the contractor to support the school in its
management process e.g providing regular figures on volumes and values

The exact monitoring requirements and methods depend on the specifics of the
service but there are standard practices that apply. These include:

      monitoring the contractor‟s performance against the specific targets and
       levels in the contract (e.g. delivery of a set number of meals within set
       timescales, and particular milestones being reached for increased take
      the contractor‟s own regime for self assurance of the service. It will not be
       necessary to inspect every activity, but should set out what the contractor
       will check, how they will inspect it and how they will respond to any
       shortcomings identified. This should involve random checks on nutritional
       standards, quality of cooking, training and development of staff and menu
      recording complaints received from end users of the service . This should
       ensure that complaints are readily dealt with, and that an effective system
       is in place for responding to and rectifying them;
      recording customer satisfaction with the service. This is different to
       recording complaints as it also tries to identify positive feedback usually
       via a questionnaire at the end of a school term or periodically during a
       contract. The school may wish to use this as a focus for a school meal

       discussion forum (comprising pupils, parents, teaching, non teaching and
       catering staff, Schools Council, and SNAG);
      it is essential to build up a good working relationship with the contractor.
       Pressure can be put on the contractor to provide a good service by letting
       them know that you are continually monitoring quality and service. Discuss
       pricing and the availability of cheaper seasonal fresh food which can be
       accommodated by menu changes.

A good complaints and compliments procedure must be capable of:

      recording the source and tracking individual complaints;
      assigning responsibility for investigating the reasons for a complaint or
      resolving the problem or building on the success;
      responding to the originator.

   Promoting and requiring self evaluation will not be sufficient in itself. It is also
   good practice for the school to the contractor‟s self reporting information and
   check key areas of the contract, through unannounced visits to the kitchen,
   and asking pupils and teachers for their views.

   Local authorities delivering a service via a contract should also provide
   contract management support for schools. The extent of this should be set
   out in a service level agreement.

Option 4 – School Meal Provision - In-house

Some schools provide their school meals service in-house. As we have said, this
option is complex to carry out alone and requires expert advice. This is an area
where schools might wish to work with another local school or a cluster of
schools. You could also ask which suppliers local Hospital Trusts, PCTs and
social services etc use. There may be an opportunity to use these suppliers and
make savings on delivery costs. This section explores some of the key
considerations for delivery and signposts further advice and guidance in this
area. The guide “Providing meals in primary schools”, produced by East Anglia
Food Link and adapted by Defra is particularly useful if you choose this option,
and we have drawn on this in the following section.

Click here for full guide

Allocation of responsibilities
 Whilst it is essential to have the commitment of the whole school community,
particularly the head teacher and governors, it is the catering manager who
usually takes on day-to-day responsibility for the school meals service. The head
teacher or the bursar (or both) takes on more general but less immediate
responsibility for overseeing the running of the system.

Often a nominated governor will also take responsibility for overseeing the
school‟s catering and wider issues of food in the school. You may also be able to
make use of parents who have the necessary skills.

Potential allocations of responsibilities from the Defra Guide:

Head Teacher
• Takes overall responsibility for management within wider management of
school, leaving daily practical matters to the catering manager.
• Approves menus, perhaps on a termly basis.
• Occasional checks of kitchen operations.
• Ensures that risk assessment and hazard analysis is carried out.
• Draws up annual catering budget within general school budget.

Catering Manager / Head Cook
• Responsible for food budget, ordering and purchasing food, stock rotation,
menu design and other practical matters.
• Day to day management of other catering staff.
• Should preferably take the intermediate course in food hygiene.

Other Catering Staff
• Preparation and serving of food (may require training in cooking and healthy
• Should have basic qualification in food hygiene.
• May be trained to cover role of Catering Manager when necessary.

School Office
• Responsible for staff contracts and salaries.
• Organises maintenance of kitchen equipment, processing food orders,
collecting dinner money.

School Caretaker / Other Support Staff
• May take on pest control and high-level cleaning duties (adequate training and
qualifications are required).

Consortium Finance Manager (if applicable)
• Annual preparation of catering budget.

Local Authority (county or unitary)
• May provide payroll and personnel services, as for other staff.

• Ultimately responsible for meeting statutory requirements.
• Nominated governor, or sub-committee, may take responsibility for overseeing
school catering and wider issues of food in the school.

Joint roles
• Devising school nutrition policy and ensuring whole school approach.


This option involves giving more responsibility and control to your school‟s
catering staff, and particularly the catering manager. This may be considered
burdensome but, on the other hand, the increased responsibility and autonomy
can contribute to job satisfaction.

All catering staff must be employed in accordance with employment law, the
minimum wage, and contractual obligations. Employment arrangements will be
similar to those for other staff. Any existing catering staff will normally have the
right to continued employment with the school.

Training staff

New qualifications and training are being developed for school catering staff. A
new level I vocational qualification in Providing a Healthier School Meals Service
has already been accredited by a number of examining bodies (including City &
Guilds, ABC, ASET, NCFE) to help school cooks‟ understanding of what makes a
healthy meal and how to market healthier meals to encourage young people to
eat them. DfES has also worked with food and education experts to identify
qualification units at Levels 2 and 3 which are specifically relevant to school
catering staff and to include those units in the Training and Development
Agency‟s nationally accredited Support Work in Schools (SWiS) qualification for
school support staff. This will enable progression from Level 1 to Levels 2 and 3
and will also help cooks feel part of the whole school team. These units should
be available from September 2006.

Skills for Life

The Department has adopted a policy relating to the development of skills in the
workforce and has prepared guidance for its use in contracts – see below. Its
purpose is to ensure that the staff employed in contracts have or can develop
appropriate skills. Its application in procuring a school meals service would be to
incorporate it in the specification, and by asking that bidders‟ responses to the
Invitation to Tender to address such issues as how the prospective contractor
would ensure that the workforce:

   has expertise and experience in working in schools catering or within a
    similar environment;
   has sufficient basic literacy, numeracy and language skills to be able to
    understand, for example, health and safety requirements;
   has relevant qualifications;
   can address the needs of a socially and culturally diverse user group;
   is subject to an appropriate staff training programme.

Click here for guidance

Food safety

All catering staff must be adequately trained in basic food hygiene. If possible,
the Catering Manager should be qualified to Level 3 in Supervising Food Safety
in Catering or above. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH),
the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Royal Institute for Public
Health (RIPH) all issue qualifications in food safety and accredit trainers.

Good food safety practice is essential for an in-house service. All providers need
to meet the requirements of Health & Safety, Food Safety and other statutory
legislation in the sourcing, preparation and serving of food. Schools are
strongly advised to get support and advice from the Council’s
environmental health officer, or the Education Client.

The Food Standards Agency has published an updated guide for food
businesses that explains the key requirements of new hygiene regulations that
apply in the UK. These include Registration, Training, Good Food Hygiene,
HACCP and Temperature Control. This leaflet is called Food Hygiene: A Guide
for Businesses and is available on the Agency‟s website at

The Food Standards Agency‟s food safety management pack for small catering
businesses called “Safer food better business” for caterers, is also available on
the Agency‟s website at


The Food Safety Act (1990)

This act requires that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure good food
hygiene. In particular:

• food that is unfit for people to eat must not be sold or kept for sale;
• food must not be dangerous to health;
• the content and quality of food must be as the customer is entitled to expect;
• food must not be described or presented in a false or misleading way.

Health and Safety

The school catering system must meet the requirements of health and safety at
work that apply to all employers, in addition to the specific requirements for food

safety outlined above.

From the Defra guide;
It is the employer‟s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of all
employees, and other people who might be affected by what they do. Every
employer must do whatever
is reasonably practicable to achieve this. This means ensuring that employees
are protected from anything that may cause harm, and controlling the risks that
will cause injury or ill health.

Employees must be informed about the risks in the workplace and how they are
protected. Where necessary, employees must be instructed and trained on how
to deal with the risks. The employer is also obliged to consult employees on
health and safety issues where appropriate.

Kitchens can be dangerous places so special attention must be paid to the health
and safety of catering staff. For example, appliances must be regularly and
thoroughly checked by a properly qualified person. Anyone maintaining gas
appliances must be CORGI registered.
Further advice on health and safety at work, including a booklet for employers, is
available from the Health and Safety Executive at http://www.hse.gov.uk.


It is important to follow good practice guidance on procurement for the
purchasing of supplies and services. Many local authorities provide support and
guidance in this area. The recently set up Regional Centres of Excellence may
also be a source of advice. The Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative web
site is also helpful. Click here for details:
The National Audit Office report “Smarter Food Procurement in the Public Sector
is also helpful: www.nao.org.uk/publications/naoreports


 For in-house services, schools can make use of a number of suppliers to find the
best deals and range of products. East Anglia Food Link found that a typical
school may make three or four orders a week. Most suppliers will set up
accounts for schools, although some schools have found it more difficult to get
local supermarkets to set up accounts.

The East Anglia Food Link/Defra guide outlines many benefits in using local
suppliers and provides advice in finding suitable suppliers.

Local suppliers
Local suppliers can offer many benefits to schools, and using them greatly
benefits the local economy including
• One-to-one relationships that encourage better service
• Often able to offer frequent deliveries as close at hand
• Able to put right any problems with orders
• May offer greater assurances of quality and origin
• Possibility of organising school visits

Ensuring safety and quality
All suppliers must be reputable and meet all the necessary food safety

Schools should never buy from any supplier that gives them cause for concern. If
in doubt, an Environmental Health Officer or the local authority‟s environmental
health department will be able to advise. Butchers, in particular, should be
licensed by the local authority to indicate that they have met all the required food
safety standards.

Arranging terms and agreeing prices
Negotiate! Many schools have found that they have been able to negotiate good
terms and discounts with suppliers.

Do not be afraid to shop around. You may find that different suppliers offer
significantly different prices and quality of product. It is always worth asking
potential suppliers about their products and the service they offer. That way, they
will know what you are looking for and that you care, and will be more likely to
meet your requirements. Proper procurement procedures must be followed.

Other services

Other services needed will include:
    pest control;
    high-level cleaning;
    equipment maintenance.

Further advice from the Defra/East Anglia Food Link Guide
Other checks, such as provision of adequate ventilation, must be carried out.
Repairs will be necessary from time to time.

Properly qualified people must carry out all these services. For maintenance of
gas appliances, CORGI registration is essential.

Sometimes, some of these services can be arranged within the school if a
member of staff has the necessary qualifications or can be trained. Outside
contractors will always keep records of services provided and you must keep
detailed records if the service is arranged in-house.

One primary school, which took its catering in-house 2 years ago, sent the
caretaker on courses in both pest control and high-level cleaning. So he is now
able to provide both services.

Networks of schools can share staff to carry out these specialist jobs. In other
cases it will be necessary to buy these services in from contractors.


The school has now:
- set its direction, so you know what you are trying to achieve from the school
   meals service and how it fits with the wider objectives for the school;
- evaluated where you are;
- considered the strengths and weaknesses of the various options and agreed
   the preferred solution with all relevant stakeholders;
- considered the practicalities of your preferred solution; and
- decided which option you are going to go for.

You are now ready to implement your improved school meal service and to
publicise it to parents, staff and children. For a checklist of these key steps see
Appendix One.

This guidance has drawn upon the work carried out by:
- East Anglia Food Link/Defra Guide, „Providing Meals in Primary Schools‟;
- Defra, including the PSFPI web site and Catering Toolkit;
- The National Audit Office “Smarter Food Procurement in the Public Sector”.

In addition a number of bodies were consulted in the preparation of the guidance,

-   various DfES staff, The Soil Association, Defra, the Food Standards Agency,
    the Department of Health (Healthy Schools), the School Food Trust and the
    National Audit Office;
-   caterers and clients in Surrey County Council, Bristol City Council, London
    Borough of Merton, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Essex
    County Council, Devon County Council and the London Borough of Camden;
-   Local Authority Catering Association;
-   Scolarest;
-   National Bursars Associations and Bursars in workshops in Wakefield and
-   National Governors‟ Council;
-   various Head Teachers in Primary, Secondary and Special schools;
-   Educo Ltd.


Key Steps to Delivering your improved service

This is a checklist of activities to follow, depending on how you want the service
to be delivered
                         Using the             Contracting out  Bringing In-
                         council service                        house
A. Set the direction – a whole school food policy

Set up a school
meal service                                                         
steering group
Develop a whole
                                                                     
school food policy
Set the vision and
objectives for your                                                  
school meal service
Involve and consult
the whole school
staff and governor                                                   
teams, children and
their families
Seek the advice and
support of your local                                                
collaborating with
                                                                     
your network of
B. Diagnose/Assess where you are now

Consider the
context for change
- current
- facilities                                                         
- wishes of
- support available
C. Evaluate the options

Assess which option
best meets your
objectives and is                                            
feasible for your
D. Consider the practicalities

Develop a service
                                                    x         x
level agreement
Develop a process
                                x                             x
for contracting out
Set up agreements
with your chosen                x                    x         
Agree menus             (with the local     (with the
                        council)             contractor)
Arrange training for
catering and                  x                      x         
lunchtime staff
Consider staff
transfer                                                     
Prepare the catering
staff team for the                                           
Ensure you are        Your council will      Your contractor
complying with        advise on this         will advise on
health, hygiene and                          this
safety legislation
Build links with your
environmental                                                
health officer

E. Consider the other key implementation issues

Whether to go           This would need
organic                 to be negotiated                      
                        with your council
Consider food and
                                                             
nutritional standards
F. Implement the

Choose the option                                            

–   with agreement

Encourage take-up
by promoting
                                  
changes and
reasons for changes


STEP 1 Governing Body Self Review

Food Policy Checklist

Before starting to develop a whole school food policy you first need to assess
existing provision and practice and review your own work in this area as a
governing body. Please use this checklist to review your current practice and to
identify issues for policy development in your school.

Has your governing body discussed food policy?

Has your governing body agreed a whole school approach to food issues?
Has your governing body appointed a named governor or a sub committee to
address food policy issues?
Does your school have mechanisms such as a School Council or a School
Nutrition Action Group to involve pupils in food policy discussions?
Does your school have policies for the following issues? If so, has the governing body
discussed them?

 breakfast clubs

 break time snacks brought from outside school

 tuckshops

 school lunches (including the dining environment and lunch service)

 lunchboxes brought from home

 vending

 water

 food and drink for after school clubs

Does your school have a delegated budget for school meals?

If so, is your governing body aware of its responsibilities for ensuring the
nutritional standards for school lunches are met?
Is the governing body aware of what is taught regarding healthy eating within
the curriculum? Is what is taught “joined up” and consistent across subjects?
Does the food provided in school reflect the healthy eating messages given in
the curriculum?
Is your school working towards healthy school status through the National

Healthy School Programme?
If so, what role is the governing body playing in this?

Does your school provide extra-curricular activities, such as cookery clubs or
growing clubs, to encourage healthy eating?


Interim food-based standards for school lunches from September 2006
(primary, secondary and special schools)

Fruit and vegetables –      Not less than two portions per day per child, at least
these include fruit and     one of which should be salad or vegetables and at
vegetables in all forms     least one should be fresh fruit, fruit tinned in juice or
(whether fresh,             fruit salad (fresh or tinned in juice).
frozen, canned, dried       A fruit based dessert shall be available at least twice
or in the form of juice).   per week in primary schools

Meat, fish and other        A food from this group should be available on a daily
non-dairy sources of        basis.
protein - these include     Red meat shall be available twice per week in
meat (including ham         primary schools, and three times per week in
and bacon) and fish         secondary schools.
(whether fresh,
frozen, canned or           Fish shall be available once per week in primary
dried); eggs; nuts;         schools and twice per week in secondary schools.
pulses; and beans           Of that fish, oily fish shall be available at least once
(other than green           every three weeks.
beans)                      For the purposes of lunches for registered pupils at
                            primary schools, sources of protein in this group can
                            include dairy sources of protein.

Manufactured meat           Manufactured meat products may be served
products.                   occasionally as part of school lunches, provided that
                            i) meet the legal minimum meat content levels set out
                            in the Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003.
                            Products not specifically covered by these legal
                            minima must meet the same minimum meat content
                            levels prescribed for burgers;
                            ii) are not “economy burgers” as described in the
                            Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003; and
                            iii) contain none of the following list of offal, except
                            that mammalian large or small intestine may be used
                            as a sausage skin (including chipolatas, frankfurters,
                            salami, links and similar products): Brains, lungs,
                            rectum, stomach, feet, oesophagus, spinal cord,
                            testicles, large intestine, small intestine, spleen,

Starchy foods (also      A food from this group should be available on a daily
see additional           basis.
requirement on deep
                         Fat or oil shall not be used in the cooking process of
frying below) - these
                         starchy foods on more than three days in any week.
include all bread (eg.
chapattis), pasta,       On every day that a fat or oil is used in the cooking
noodles, rice,           process of starchy foods, a starchy food for which fat
potatoes, sweet          or oil is not used in the cooking process should also
potatoes, yams, millet   be available.
and cornmeal.            In addition, bread should be available on a daily

Deep-fried foods         Meals should not contain more than two deep-fried
                         items in a single week. This includes products which
                         are deep-fried in the manufacturing process.

Milk and dairy foods –   A food from this group should be available on a daily
includes milk, cheese,   basis.
yoghurt (including
frozen and drinking
yoghurt), fromage
frais, and custard

Drinks                   The only drinks available should be:
                               plain water (still or fizzy);
                               milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed);
                               pure fruit juices;
                               yoghurt or milk drinks (with less than 5%
                                added sugar);
                               drinks made from combinations of those in
                                bullet points 1 to 4 of this list (eg. smoothies);
                               low calorie hot chocolate;
                               tea; and
                               coffee.

                         NB – Artificial sweeteners could be used only in
                         yoghurt and milk drinks; or combinations containing
                         yoghurt or milk.

Water                    There should be easy access at all times to free,
                         fresh drinking water.

Salt and condiments                Table salt should not be made available.
                                   If made available, condiments should be available
                                   only in sachets.

Confectionery and                  Confectionery, chocolate and chocolate-coated
savoury snacks                     products (excluding cocoa powder used in chocolate
                                   cakes, or low calorie hot drinking chocolate) shall not
                                   be available throughout the lunch time.
                                   The only savoury snacks available should be nuts
                                   and seeds with no added salt or sugar.

Nutrient-based standards for school lunches from September 2008
(primary schools) or September 2009 (secondary and special schools)

This table summarises the proportion of nutrients that children and young people
should receive from a school lunch. The figures are for the required nutrient
content of an average lunch over five consecutive school days.

Energy                                 30% of the estimated average requirement (EAR)2

Protein                                Not less than 30% of reference nutrient intake (RNI)

Total carbohydrate                     Not less than 50% of food energy

Non-milk extrinsic sugars              Not more than 11% of food energy

Fat                                    Not more than 35% of food energy

Saturated fat                          Not more than 11% of food energy

Fibre                                  Not less than 30% of the calculated reference value
                                       Note: calculated as Non Starch Polysaccharides

Sodium                                 Not more than 30% of the SACN3 recommendation

Vitamin A                              Not less than 40% of the RNI

Vitamin C                              Not less than 40% of the RNI

Folate/folic acid                      Not less than 40% of the RNI

 Nutrient values except for sodium are based on: Department of Health (1991) Dietary Reference Values for
Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. London: HMSO
    Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2003) Salt and Health. London: The Stationery Office

Calcium                             Not less than 40% of the RNI

Iron                                Not less than 40% of the RNI

Zinc                                Not less than 40% of the RNI

EAR = Estimated Average Requirement – the average amount of energy or nutrients needed by a group of
people. Half the population will have needs greater than this, and half will be below this amount

RNI = Reference Nutrient Intake – the amount of a nutrient which is enough to meet the dietary
requirements of about 97% of a group of people

SACN = Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. For details of figures for the dietary reference values
and derived amounts for nutrients for children and young people see Crawley (2005), with the exception that
the derived reference value for fibre for boys aged 15-18 years should be capped at 18g.

Food-based standards for school lunches from September 2008 (primary
schools) or September 2009 (secondary and special schools)

Fruit and vegetables –          Not less than two portions per day per child, at least
these include fruit and         one of which should be salad or vegetables and at
vegetables in all forms         least one should be fresh fruit, fruit tinned in juice or
(whether fresh,                 fruit salad (fresh or tinned in juice).
frozen, canned, dried
or in the form of juice)

Oily fish                       Oily fish shall be available at least once every three

Manufactured meat   Manufactured meat products may be served
products            occasionally as part of school lunches, provided that
                    i) meet the legal minimum meat content levels set out
                    in the Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003.
                    Products not specifically covered by these legal
                    minima must meet the same minimum meat content
                    levels prescribed for burgers;
                    ii) are not “economy burgers” as described in the
                    Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003; and
                    iii) contain none of the following list of offal, except
                    that mammalian large or small intestine may be used
                    as a sausage skin (including chipolatas, frankfurters,
                    salami, links and similar products): Brains, lungs,
                    rectum, stomach, feet, oesophagus, spinal cord,
                    testicles, large intestine, small intestine, spleen,

Bread               Bread should be available on a daily basis.

Deep-fried foods    Meals should not contain more than two deep-fried
                    items in a single week. This includes products which
                    are deep-fried in the manufacturing process.

Drinks              The only drinks available should be:
                          plain water (still or fizzy);
                          milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed);
                          pure fruit juices;
                          yoghurt or milk drinks (with less than 5%
                           added sugar);
                          drinks made from combinations of those in
                           bullet points 1 to 4 of this list (eg. smoothies);
                          low calorie hot chocolate;
                          tea; and
                          coffee.

                    NB – Artificial sweeteners could be used only in
                    yoghurt and milk drinks; or combinations containing
                    yoghurt or milk

Water                  There should be easy access at all times to free,
                       fresh drinking water.

Salt and condiments    Table salt should not be made available.
                       If made available, condiments should be available
                       only in sachets.

Confectionery and      Confectionery, chocolate and chocolate-coated
savoury snacks         products (excluding cocoa powder used in chocolate
                       cakes, or low calorie hot drinking chocolate) shall not
                       be available throughout the lunch time.
                       The only savoury snacks available should be nuts
                       and seeds with no added salt or sugar.

Manufactured Foods: The Food Standards Agency is introducing Target
Nutrient Specifications for manufactured foods. These cover things like
maximum fat, saturated fat, salt/sodium and sugar levels and can help you work
out whether your suppliers products‟ are suitable under the new standards. See


Public Sector Food Procurement checklist

The Public Sector Food Project provides a checklist for considering the health
and environmental impact of your contract. These do not necessarily represent
good practice per se, but are matters that you may want to consider.

PSFPI Checklist                      Yes                 No
Will the contractor supply
produce low in fat, salt and
Can the contractor guarantee
processes which are low in fat,
salt and sugar?
Will the contractor meet the SFT
guidelines on nutritional
Does the contractor have a
practical policy on environmental
requirements within the facility
(Cleaning materials, use of
energy, production processes
and equipment)?
Does the contractor have a
practical policy on environmental
requirements with respect to
distribution/delivery needs?
Does the contractor have a
practical policy on environmental
requirements with respect to
waste minimisation, re-cycling
and disposal?
Has the contractor agreed to the
key performance indicators?
Have we specified organic?
Is the use of fresh produce, fresh
from suppliers, encouraged?
Will fair trade produce and
beverages be available?
Have we specified the use of
assurance schemes?
Has the contractor declared the
assurance schemes which they


         Example – Catering Service Output Specification

Please note that this is an example of a secondary school specification
template. You will need to adapt it and add to it to ensure that it reflects the
needs of your school, and it specifically draws attention to some key areas
you will need to consider. It will also need to be modified depending on
whether the service is provided by the local authority or a contractor. You
will also find it helpful to consult the Defra PSFPI toolkit, where you will
find the following section

 Appendix 2 - Annex 1 - Information to assist writing specification clauses
 (page 120)
 A. Raising Production and Process Standards: Food assurance schemes
 (including organic)
 B. Increasing opportunities for small and local producers
 C. Healthy and Safe Food:
        1) Healthy and nutritious food
        2) Food safety, including food hygiene
 D. Environmental impacts:
 E. Ethnic minority, cultural and religious diets
 F. Biodiversity
 G. Fair treatment of suppliers, including promoting fair trade
 H. Working conditions for catering staff
 I. Marketing and merchandising
 J. Training and Monitoring


1. Definitions

1.1   In this Service Level Specification the following words and phrases shall have the
      following meaning unless the context otherwise requires:
          (School may wish to add / delete as appropriate to this definitions table)

      “Catering Service”     means the catering service to be provided pursuant to this
                             Service Specification including: (delete as appropriate)

                             a)     school meals service;

                             b)     tuck-shop service;

                             c)     breakfast service;

                             d)     after-school meals service.
      "Dietician"            means a professional dietician suitably qualified to understand
                             catering, nutrition and dietetic needs.

      "End User"             means a pupil, member of staff or parent who is provided with a
                             meals service.

      "Ethnic Diet"          means a diet for a specific ethnic minority group that has a
                             cultural basis.

      "Meal Times"           means the times set out in [ ] of this Services Level
                             Specification at which meals are to be provided to End Users;

      “Modified Diet”        means any specialist requirements by End Users such as
                             (include as appropriate gluten free/ Wheat intolerances / Kosher
                             / Afro Caribbean etc.)
      “The Service           means the successful contractor who has been awarded the
      Provider”              contract, and been subject to the procurement process and
                             inspection by the Headteacher / School Governor, to ensure that
                             their procedures, goods and services are of an acceptable
                             standard and capable of meeting the requirements of this
                             Service Level Specification.

      “Out of School         [School to define as appropriate]
      “Quality               means the quality standards set out at [include as appendices to
      Standards”             this service level specification];

      "Religious Diet"       means a diet that meets the needs of End Users who require a
                             diet based on their religious requirements;
      "Services              means the service standards set out at [ ] to be adhered to
      Standards"             under this Service Level Specification;
      “Soft Meals”           [School to define – may be more appropriate to Special Schools]

      “Special Diet”         [School to define – may be more appropriate to Special Schools
                             or those End Users with specific requirements / nut allergies etc]
      "Therapeutic Diet"     [School to define – may be more appropriate to Special Schools]
      "Vegan Diet"           means a diet that excludes meat, poultry, fish and dairy
      "Vegetarian Diet"      means a diet that excludes meat, poultry and fish products.

2.     Scope of Service

2.1   The Service Provider shall provide a high quality Catering Service which offers a
      range of appetising and nutritious food and drink in line with the Department for
      Education and Skills (DfES) Nutritional Standards for School Lunches and Other
      School Food published on 19 May 2006 as set out in associated guidance
      published by the School Food Trust in June 2006, and the School‟s Whole School
      Food Policy.
2.2   The Service Provider will enable all End Users to be provided with a Healthy
      Balanced Meal and to receive a choice which reflects their dietary needs and
      tastes .
2.3   The Service Provider shall ensure that the service is flexible, to account for
      changes in school meal times and changes in menus, and provide for changing
      customer needs, and changes by the Government in terms of legislation and
      guidance for the provision of a school meals service. The Catering Service shall
      be delivered in a way that provides a healthy and nutritious balanced service.
2.4   The Service Provider shall provide a School meals service on an xx weeks basis,
      between the    hours of xx and xx per annum.
2.5   The following services must be provided as a minimum (School to add / delete as
      appropriate hot, cold, baguettes, ethnic , salad bars, vending, tuck shops,
      meetings etc.)

3. Key Objectives
3.1   The Service Provider    shall ensure that its services meet the following key
       a)     to provide a high quality catering service that is courteous, efficient and
              maximises the schools uptake of providing a school meals service;
       b)     works with the School (use textual content as appropriate) – to implement
              its Whole School Foods Policy and ( achieve or maintain) Healthy
              Schools status to provide healthy and nutritious balanced school meals;
       c)     conforms to Government Legislation and policy guidance particularly in
              Nutritional Standards, Food Hygiene, and Food Safety in planning and
              providing a school meals service;
       d)     provides good quality, safe, wholesome and nutritious meals, snacks and
              beverages in compliance with requirements of all food safety legislation,
              and to the frequency and standard as laid out in the DfES guidance on
              procuring a school meals service;

         e)     food that is presented in an attractive manner which encourages and
                offers End Users a choice, including vegetarian and vegan food
                alternatives with particular attention paid to appearance, taste, texture,
                portion control and nutritional value to increase levels of healthy eating;
         f)     a comprehensive and varied range of healthy snacks and confectionery
                including those times out of core school meal times (delete as
                appropriate – such as breakfast clubs, mid morning snacks, vending
                arrangements) as defined within the Service Level Specification;
         g)     to work in partnership with the School to ensure optimum schools meals
         h)     work in collaboration with head teachers and school governors to ensure
                the best possible catering service is provided for the School;
         i)     to conform to key quality and service standards and report on key
                performance indicators for the provision of the school meals service.

4. Key Customers / End Users
         a)     School pupils;
         b)     Teaching staff;
         c)     Parents
         d)     Visitors

5. Process
5.1     Scope

5.1.1     The Service Provider shall comply with all requirements set out within this Service
          Level Specification and any appendices hereto relevant to the delivery and
          provision of providing a School Meals Service.

5.1.2     The Service Provider shall comply with all the Service Requirements of this
          Service Specific Specification.

5.1.3     The Service Provider shall comply at all times with the law, government policy,
          local authority policy, and specifically the following as a minimum:
          a)    Food Act (1984);
          b)    Food Hygiene (General) Regulations (1970 as updated by the 1990, 1991
                and 1995 amendment regulations); [update needed from Bernard]
          c)    Health and Safety at Work Act (1974);
          d)    Food labelling Regulations (1984);
          e)    Control of Substance Hazardous to Health Act (1989);
          f)    Food Safety Act (1990);
          g)    The Educational Nutritional Standards for School Lunches – England

                Regulations (2000, which came into effect in April 2001) or the successor
                guidelines or regulations [update],
         h)     Nutritional Standards published on 19 May 2006
         i)     School Food Trust guidance for provision of a school meals service;
         j)     Healthy Schools Blueprint (2005);
         k)     Supply of food and provisions conforming to EN 45011 or equivalent
5.1.4     To support the delivery of the Catering Service , The Service Provider shall work
          with the Headteacher and School Governors to plan, implement, operate and
          maintain systems and procedures for:

          a)   The procurement, storage and preparation of all ingredients and foodstuffs as

          b)   The provision, management and training of all Catering Service employees;

          c)   The supply of all equipment and consumables.

          d)   Menu development, meal ordering and meeting any specific dietary needs.

5.2     Minimum Service Requirements
Ref       Compliance with Food Safety

5.2.1     The Service Provider shall develop and implement appropriate operational policies, SP01
          procedures and practices to ensure food safety and hygiene standards are
          maintained at all times and which complies with Government Legislation.

5.2.2     The Service Provider shall maintain proper standards of food safety, personal SP02
          hygiene and personnel apparel, in accordance with the Government Legislation at all
          times. This shall include as a minimum training in the following:
          a) food hygiene, including:
                 i)       health and safety legislation;
                 ii)      food hygiene policies and procedures; and
                 iii)     the attainment of a Basic Food Hygiene Certificate;
          and for supervisory and management training to the following standard:
          b) the attainment of an Intermediate Food Hygiene standard certificate for all
             supervisory staff and cooks or equivalent;
          c) the attainment of an advanced or RIPHH Diploma Food Hygiene standard
              certificate for all managers or equivalent;

          Procurement, Storage and Preparation of Ingredients

5.2.3     The Service Provider      shall procure all food and ingredients within the best SP03

         interests of the school
          from either national, regional or locally based suppliers,
          [MRM free ]
          provide a healthy range of food for End Users.

         (Refer to the Defra model specification clauses (Raising Production and Process
         Standards) , which can be adapted as the school wishes, and placed in an appendix
         – they are lengthy

5.2.4    The Service Provider shall implement quality control procedures for all incoming SP04
         ingredients and foodstuffs to ensure goods are within their stated expiry date and
         free from damage and pest infestation/damage, have been stored and transported
         at the correct temperature and are suitable for consumption by End Users.

5.2.5    The Service Provider shall ensure that all food is handled, stored, prepared and SP05
         cooked appropriately, that procedures are in place to ensure it is kept at the
         requisite temperature at all times including but not limited to storage prior to
         preparation, during cooking and at point of service around the School to End Users.

         Food Equipment and Resources

5.2.6    The Service Provider shall provide all staffing, training, supplies, equipment SP06
         hardware, menus, crockery, utensils, disposables, personal protective equipment,
         cleaning materials and any other items required for the efficient delivery of the
         School Meals Service.

5.2.7    The Service Provider shall provide, distribute, collect, wash and dry, store and    SP07
         replace as necessary all crockery, cutlery and other implements and equipment
         used in connection with the Catering Service.

5.2.8    The Service Provider shall ensure that all food equipment is safe and operational   SP08
         at all times.

Food Standards, Menu Development and Meal Ordering

 5.2.9   The Service Provider shall provide an End User focused menu development SP09
         service, based on [ xx include menu cycle timeframes]- actively takes account of
         End Users feedback regarding the :

         a)     freshly cooked, healthy recipes;

         b)     range of services (meals) on offer;

         c)     choice of meals, snacks and drinks;

         d)     quality of service; and

         e)     accessibility of service.

         The Service Provider shall conform to the following food standards and policies:
           Government nutritional standards (include specific reference)
          Organic/fresh or any other requirements of ingredients [specify]
          Conforms with the school‟s food policy
         See Defra - model specification clauses for consideration
5.2.10   The Service Provider must work closely with the Headteacher and School SP10
         Governors to gain approval prior to:

         a)    any changes to staffing arrangements;

         b)    informative information to End Users;

         c)    use of new suppliers and changes to menu panning;

         d)    use of potentially allergenic ingredients (e.g. nuts);

         e)    working with the school encouraging provision of food inline with curriculum

         f)    delivery of any Modified, Special and Therapeutic Diets, ethnic         with
               particular regard to the content, standard and method of delivery;

         g)    implementation of all menus;

         h)    changes to delivery and provision of school meals service;

         i)    response and change to Government Legislation;

         j)    interaction with other Schools, Outside Bodies, Government Bodies and
               external Consultants.

         k)    introducing food provision with curriculum activities.

5.2.11   The Service Provider shall provide a minimum of a xx menu cycle to ensure variety    SP11
         and selection and to avoid menu fatigue. Menu cycles shall be changed to take
         account of increased healthy eating options. The Service Provider shall provide
         suitable special menus for:

         a)      breakfast clubs;

         b)      mid morning tuck shops;

         c)      out of school activities;

         d)      seasonal, festive and religious events;

         e)      other special occasion‟s inline with school curriculum activity.

5.2.12   The Service Provider shall provide menus in the format and style agreed with the     SP12
         Headteacher and School Governors, but as a minimum shall take full regard of:

         a)       ethnic/religious requirements;

         b)       promotion of healthy eating;

         c)       menus that encourage healthy eating;

         d)       curriculum activities;

         e)       seasonal and festive school activities;

         f)       genetically modified and or allergenic contents.

5.2.13   The Service Provider shall be responsible for collection and control of monies from   SP13
         End Users for provision of a school meals service and report budget details as
         agreed with the Headteacher and School Governors. (may wish to specify the
         introduction and/or maintenance of a cashless system)

         Food Wastage

5.2.14   Ensure waste derived from the provision of a school meals service is recycled         SP14
         wherever possible to create healthy food alternatives such as fruit juices, fruit
         salads, fruit bars and snacks that are presentable and attractive to End Users
         requirements. Where appropriate use returnable packaging to reduce waste. An
         example is to use returnable trays for meat supplies.

         Cleaning Materials
5.2.15   The Service Provider will ensure that all cleaning material are free from:            SP15

         a)       hazardous substances;

         b)       harmful solvents;

         c)       ozone depleting substances;

         d)       substances with a high global warming potential.

5.2.16   The Service Provider will ensure that premises are free of vermin control and pest SP16
         control through collaboration with the Food Standards Agency and the Schools Local

         Environmental Management System
5.2.17   The Service Provider shall within 3 months of appointment have in place an SP17
         Environmental Management system which links to performance indicators
         measuring the service delivery and success of the contract as consulted with
         Headteacher and School Governors.

5.2.18   The Service Provider shall be responsible for managing the use of energy, gas and     SP18
         water within Schools premises for providing a School Meals service.
5.2.19   The Service Provider shall be responsible for all deliveries made to the School for   SP19
         providing a School Meals service and ensure that supplier‟s vehicles and equipment
         comply with health & Safety.

         Staffing, Management and Training
5.2.20   The Service Provider will be responsible for the management, training and welfare of   SP20
         School Meals Catering Staff. Staff will be provided who:

             a) have appropriate ability, skills and experience to provide a professional

             b) staff in reserve for sickness, absence so as not to disrupt the quality of
                providing a school meals service;

             c) trained in basic food hygiene (or possess within the first 6 weeks of
                employment the Health officers Basic Food Hygiene Certificate);

             d) all staff must be fully inducted and trained in all areas of work (including
                Health & Safety and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

             e) conform to use of protective clothing and equipment.

             f)   have detailed job descriptions and specifications;

             g) understand the importance of Healthy Eating and Whole School Food Policy;

             h) understand introducing curriculum activity to the School Meals Service.

             i)   Conform with the DfES policy on Adult Basic Skills

School Meals Service Timetable (School to include specific times & include
staggered meals service)

         Meal                             End Users

         Breakfast club                   [*-*] hrs

         Mid Morning Snack / Tuck [*-*] hrs
         Shop Facilities

         Lunch                            [*-*] hrs

         Out of Schools Club              [*-*] hrs

         Vending Arrangements

5.2.21   The Service Provider shall ensure that its School Meals facilities shall be staffed    SP21
         between [xx - xx] hrs and [xx – xx] hours as a minimum.

5.2.22   The Service Provider shall ensure that all tables shall be cleaned promptly [30           SP22
         minutes after use and made available for the next End User.

5.2.23   The Service Provider shall ensure that any payment of services by End User is             SP23
         agreed and established with the Headteacher and School Governors (this could be
         token system, cashless system, collection of meals money in advance to be
         determined by the School).

5.2.24 The Service Provider shall ensure chilled and ambient temperature water and                 SP24
       suitable receptacles are available free of charge at all times during school meals
Vending Machine Service
5.2.25   The Service Provider shall deliver the out-of hours services by supplying vending to      SP25
         the facilities to ensure that the choice of healthy snacks and beverages, as agreed
         with the Headteacher and School Governors are made available. The Service
         Provider will be responsible for replenish all contents and maintain machine stocks
         above [50] % ensuring sell by dates and good stock rotation methods are adhered

5.2.26   Vending machines/areas shall be unobtrusive and where possible integrated into the        SP26
         overall building design. The location of vending machines fitted retrospectively shall
         be agreed with the Headteacher and School Governors prior to installation. Vending
         areas should be located to provide a full vending Service based on healthy products

5.2.27   The Service Provider shall be responsible for procuring, installing, commissioning,       SP27
         maintaining, cleaning vending machines according to manufacturer‟s instructions
         and any other ancillary equipment required, for meeting the out-of-hours Services.

5.2.28   Vending areas shall be provided with litter bins, all vending areas shall be kept clean   SP28
         and tidy at all times.

5.2.29   The Service Provider shall liaise with and act on the advice of the Headteacher and       SP29
         School Governance inline with nutritional guidance and when requested provide
         ingredients lists of vended goods, and shall not stock the following [specify]

5.2.30   Vending prices shall be clearly displayed and shall not be changed without prior          SP30
         consent by the Headteacher or School Governors.

5.2.31   The Service Provider shall clearly display a customer care contact number for             SP31
         vending machine End Users to report faults or low stocks. All user complaints shall
         be the responsibility of the Service Provider

Appendix A – Service and Quality Standards

Meal or Beverage        Meal/ Beverage Type and Standard

Breakfast Club          [Dietician to complete]

Mid Morning Snack /   [Dietician to complete]
Tuck Shop

Lunch                 [Dietician to complete]

Out of Schools Club   [Dietician to complete]

Drinks                 Chilled and ambient temperature water and suitable receptacles
                         shall be available at times during School Meals provision.
                      [The school may wish to specify specific standards]

Nutritional            The Recommended Nutritional Intake (RNI) is between [xx and xx]
Guidelines for          kcal/day with an average of between [xx and xx kcal/day, as agreed
School Meals            with the Dietetic Service;

                       Portion Control are between xxxxx

                       Adequate cutlery, crockery and disposables are available at all meal

Performance Standards

  Ref                        Performance Standards                                                  Performance Measurement

        Robust food safety and hygiene systems are in place and are             YES / NO
        compliant with Government Legislation.

        Staff maintain personal hygiene and personal apparel in accordance      YES / NO
        with Good Industry Practice.
        Supervisory staff hold a valid Food Hygiene standard certificate.       YES / NO
        Catering managers hold a valid advanced or RIPHH Diploma Food           YES / NO
        Hygiene standard certificate.
        All food and/or ingredients are procured from approved suppliers in     %
        accordance with Government Legislation and assured standards

        Robust and auditable procedures are in place to ensure procedures       YES / NO
        for storage, handling, preparation and cooking of foods are fully
        complied with.

        Equipment, crockery, cutlery and other implements and resources         YES / NO
        required for the provision of the Catering Service are provided as

        Crockery, cutlery and other re-useable items used in the provision of   %
        catering services are distributed, returned and cleaned according to
        agreed procedures.

        Users of the catering service are regularly asked to comment on the     % and period (i.e. quarterly monitoring / customer satisfaction
        menu offered.                                                           surveys)

Ref                        Performance Standards                                                 Performance Measurement

      Menus offer a range of services including choice of meals, snacks     % (customer satisfaction).
      and drink to reflect the customer feedback within the dietary and
      ethnicity requirements

      The Headteacher and School Governors have approved all menus          yes/no
      and ingredients prior to their implementation or use.

      The menu has a minimum xx day cycle and includes the provision of     yes/no
      festive meals when appropriate.

      Food waste is recycled.                                               %

      Menu planning and schedules have been approved by the                 Management performance indicator?
      Headteacher and School Governors prior to implementation and are
      within the Meal Times.

      All scheduled meals and snacks including Special Diet meals and       % (self reporting)
      snacks are delivered according to agreed delivery time and Service
      and Quality Standards.

      Healthy food options are delivered inline with Schools requirements   % (self reporting)
      and Government Legislation
      Dirty crockery and crockery and used disposables are removed          % (self reporting & customer satisfaction)
      within 10 minutes of the End User completing their meals.
      All monies are collected inline with Head Teacher and School          % (self reporting & management information)
      Governor requirements by the Service Provider

      Meals charges and pricing has been set and approved by the            yes/no
      Headteacher and School Governors

  Ref                          Performance Standards                                                 Performance Measurement

         All tables are cleared of and cleaned within [5] minutes of diners     % (self reporting and customer satisfaction)
         completing their meal.

         Chilled and ambient temperature water and suitable receptacles are     % (self reporting)
         available at all times within the restaurant area.
         Percentage of healthy and nutritious food served that is low in fat,   % (self reporting)
         salt and sugar and meets nutritional standards

         Percentage of locally sourced and organic products                     % (self reporting)

         Percentage of staff trained (include refresher training) to            % (self reporting)
         qualifications and standards as set out within Service Level

         All vending machines and equipment are installed correctly and are     yes/no
         fully operational in accordance with manufacturer‟s instructions.

         Vending machines providing healthy snacks and confectionery            % (self reporting)

         A list of all vended goods and their ingredients is available for      % (self reporting)
         inspection to the Headteacher and School Governors at all times.

Reporting Frequency (to be agreed by School and the Service Provider)


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