Classic line at the foot of this Telegraph article about Jamie Oliver lambasting Education Secretary, Michael Gove over how he is not-so-secretly watering down the cross-the-board standards on school meals by keeping academy schools exempt while simultaneously encouraging more and more schools to become academies.
Jamie’s argument is that a lack of universal standards will inevitably mean some schools will provide meals for children that would not be up to scratch (which will be exacerbated by budget cuts and freezes, though he doesn’t say so) and this process will be sped up with the large increase in academies, which are exempt from these standards.
It’s an interesting argument and possibly a good example of how academies could be reformed to improve them further and give Labour a better position on them than our current blind love/hate of them depending on which side of the political spectrum you sit on.
Certainly, as Oliver says, the paperwork involved in maintaining standards of food at a school must be minimal (I’m willing to take his word for it) yet the influence it will have on our children is massive.
It would undermine the universal notion of ‘freedom’ for schools and it goes against the current reformist grain of independence and no centrally dictated measures. In that respect it would need to be set out clearly it’s not the thin end of the wedge but an issue of central importance to the child’s development and therefore it’s right we set universal standards for our children’s diets while in the care of the school.
What’s brilliant about the argument between Jamie (celebrity known by first name) and Gove (politician known by second name) is that he (Jamie) tells an anecdote about how when he explained this to Michael Gove, Gove replied by telling him how he had just visited a wonderful school that served fantastic food, inferring that Jamie was fussing over nothing. Jamie knew about this school…he’d opened the new kitchen in the first place.
Whatever you think of Jamie Oliver, his food, books and TV shows, it’s obvious he knows his onions (to stick to food related phrases) when it comes to this subject and I’m amazed that after all these years a politician would even try to patronise him on the subject.