Pupils at a Leeds school are pioneering a new initiative which Jamie Oliver would be proud of. Susan Press reports...
Food 'ambassadors' at Temple Moor High School, Temple Newsam, are taking on the culinary task of improving food standards and boosting healthy eating.
Over the next few months, they will be working with teachers and catering staff to monitor and assess the standard of food in their school and suggesting ways of improving it.
The 14-strong team of young inspectors will monitor the standard of food on their lunchtime plates every day and aim to come up with positive ways of improving the quality and variety in a bid to encourage more pupils to eat school meals.
The innovative project will also see them involve and source local food producers to make their menus more sustainable and appetising.
School dinners hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons just a few years ago, when TV chef Jamie Oliver's hard-hitting series Jamie's School Dinners exposed poor standards in dinners at some schools in the UK.
The series saw the launch of the Feed Me Better campaign in 2005 and increased awareness in the Government and the British public about the need for better school meals.
The project at Temple Moor is being co-ordinated at the school by PE teacher Adam Ayliff, who is also the school's health and wellbeing co-ordinator.
He told the YEP: "Our school meals have improved massively compared to where they were four or five years ago but we are still a little bit stagnant in terms of what we serve so we are always looking for new ideas.
"We think we could make things a lot more interesting so we welcome the pupils' input which will hopefully help us improve the take-up of cooked lunches. A lot of our pupils still bring in packed lunches which are not so nutritionally balanced and often lacking in the vital nutrients and vitamins which young people need.
"Our canteen staff are really supportive of the scheme as they want to see more pupils eating their dinners.
"And the students are also really looking forward to having a major role to play. One idea they have already had is themed food days with different dishes from around the world."
The scheme is the latest programme designed to help deliver the Leeds School Meal Strategy on healthy eating.
The scheme, backed by Education Leeds, was launched several months ago.
Dirk Gilleard, deputy chief executive, said: "This initiative gives children and young people a constructive voice and the ability to help make decisions about services. The need for access to good quality school meals is very important.
"We are absolutely committed to encouraging more and more children and young people to eat healthily at school and our new school food ambassadors are a great way of helping us to achieve this."
So far, around 40 schools across Leeds have now expressed an interest in joining up to the scheme following the success of a pilot project. Special Training Days will be held in February.
Education chiefs hope that the project will eventually be rolled out to all the 263 primary and secondary schools in Leeds during 2011.
Carving out an arty lesson
PROFESSIONAL artist Chris Kasher is renowned for his unusual ways of creating masterpieces.
The former student at Leeds College of Art is currently carving out a career as a sculptor and painter using alternative medium from plywood to painting machines which he creates himself.
And he brought the latter to a workshop session for Year 7 pupils at Parklands Girls High School in Seacroft.
Teacher Toby Gale, of the school's Faculty of Art and Design, said: "To have real artists come into our school is a great opportunity for our students to work with a professional and learn new techniques which we don't normally have on the curriculum."
The visit by the Leeds-based artist was the second to be organised with the help of the Artform organisation, which works in partnership with Education Leeds.
It is part of their "Artist Carousel" project involving artists and schools across the city. The students' work will feature in an exhibition to be held in July.
MORE than 1,200 pupils from a cluster of schools in Leeds celebrated their new status with a day of information.
Brigshaw High School and Language College was the base for an "Immersion Day" where students found out more about the values behind their new status as a trust.
The Brigshaw Co-operative Trust comprises Allerton Bywater Primary, Brigshaw High School and Language College, Great Preston CofE Primary, Kippax Ash Tree Primary, Kippax Greenfield Primary, Kippax North Junior and Infants, Lady Elizabeth Hastings CofE Primary and Swillington Primary.
Representatives from trust partners, including the Co-operative Group, Leeds City Council, and Leeds City College attended the launch with children from the local area.
Pupils and children from the seven primary schools involved took part in a series of workshops to learn about co-operative values like self-help, equality, and democracy.
The workshops were planned and run by staff with a range of topics from across the curriculum.
Peter Laurence, trust development director, said: "We chose to become a co-operative trust because we believe in co-operative values. We also want to encourage our pupils, parents and staff to have a much greater say in how we can achieve the very best for the children, young people and families of our communities by learning and working with each other and for each other."
Workshops ranged from the history of the co-op movement to Fairtrade movement.
Staff, students and community groups are now being invited to become members of the trust and will play an active part in shaping its future.
Pupils have answers in Question Time test
A team of pupils from Harrogate Ladies' College have their sights set on David Dimbleby's job as they celebrate being crowned Yorkshire's Regional Winner in the BBC Schools Question Time Challenge.
They got through to the final stage after submitting a video debate about how to encourage more women into business and enterprise, with the help of Harrogate MP Andrew Jones.
The final challenge, which takes place in March 2011,is to organise and host a Question Time-style event, which will be judged by top BBC journalists on citizenship skills, creativity and project management. HLC will compete against 14 other schools hoping to be one of four National Winners who will co-produce an episode of Question Time, alongside David Dimbleby and the BBC production team.