Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Monday, 18 June 2012 15:39 UK

Gove signals academy food policy shift

The government plans to shift its policy on the quality of food provided in academy schools in response to a campaign led by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, Education Secretary Michael Gove has signalled.

In April, Mr Oliver told the Observer that he was "totally mystified" that academies were allowed to determine what food should be on offer, while state schools follow strict rules.

"The health of millions of children could be affected by this one man [Mr Gove]," Mr Oliver said. "When there is a national obesity crisis unfolding around us, I honestly think he is playing with fire."

At education questions in the Commons on 18 June 2012, Mr Gove denied that he was planning a "U-turn" on the subject.

"There is no evidence that academies are performing worse at lunchtime than other maintained schools," he told MPs.

"Governing bodies will decide what food and drink is available at academies and free schools; we trust them to make the right choices for their pupils."

But he added: "All schools need to improve the quality of their meals, and we'll be making an announcement shortly - not a U-turn - but building upon the platform that Jamie Oliver has created."

His comments came in response to a question from shadow education minister Sharon Hodgson, who had said the government's policy on food in academies was "disgraceful".

"Health and education experts are calling for a U-turn, 98 members of this House - including a number from the government benches - are calling for a U-turn, even Jamie Oliver is calling for a U-turn," she said.

"How many more calls for a U-turn and reams of evidence does the government need to hear before it does the right thing, puts evidence ahead of dogma, and makes sure that all children get the benefit of healthy school food?"

Mr Gove replied: "I applaud her passion on this, as I do that of Jamie Oliver."

Education: Government and opposition

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