How we are supporting schools?

Commercial Services are working closely with schools to advise and support during the months leading up to  and throughout the implementation process and have communicated to schools via a series of briefs outlined below.

Briefing To the Head teacher March 2014 - No 2

This is the second in a series of updates from Commercial Services (CS)

The School Food Plan and Universal Free School Meals (UIFSM) for R and KS1

On 6th March, the DfE issued information and documentation about R and KS1 UIFSM to be implemented from 1.9.14 and I am writing to signpost that information and provide a premises update. Michael Gove and David Laws wrote to all heads on 23rd January 2014 setting out the legislative basis for the change. There is a legal duty to offer a free meal which meets the School Food Standards (Revised Standards are out to consultation but CS will ensure compliance for our provision). Our menu meets and will continue to meet, The Soil Association’s Silver Food for Life accreditation which assures you of the food provenance.

The School Food Plan can be viewed at

The Plan makes the Head teacher the single most important feature in making this a success and UIFSM is intended to enable this.

CS has been assessing kitchens for capacity to meet your anticipated numbers. If you haven’t yet heard from us, it is because we have been prioritising those schools where we anticipate some work is needed and it is reasonably safe to assume we feel your kitchen can cope. We do plan to discuss this directly with you but there is much to do in a short space of time; we will be with you as soon as we can.

The DfE has set up an implementation support service which is being provided by The Children’s Food Trust and the Lead Association for CAtering in Education (LACA). Further details about this implementation support, the allocation of funding and transitional funding for small schools (less than 150 on roll) can be accessed by calling 0800 680 0080 and found at

Two documents were issued by the DfE on 6th March. The first, Universal Infant Free School Meals Ref DFE-00073-2014 explains the revenue funding. £2.30 will be allocated to schools against 87% of newly eligible children in July this year. Initial provisional allocations will be based on an estimate of national take up and adjusted once the department has details of the actual number taken. Existing entitlement will continue to be based on existing FSM eligibility criteria. Schools hold this budget. A new indicator on the School Census will be introduced in October 14. Pupil premium is not affected. The same criteria (ie receipt of qualifying benefits) will be used. Data on FSM eligible pupils will continue to be collected through the School Census. Schools will need to record meals taken, through SCC’s school meals portal, in the same way as now and any variations to process that become necessary will be notified via the usual communications channels. Page 9 of DFE-00073-2014 provides details of the Implementation Support available to you.

The second document UIFSM Toolkit has more information about Pupil Premium and provides further essential information. This again can be obtained via links on

Within the Catering Framework Agreement, CS is responsible for delivering a nutritionally compliant menu in compliant premises provided by the school. We have assessed the additional staff we will need and are developing a recruitment and training plan. We are also developing a communication strategy and are ordering the table service equipment that will be needed.

From Sept 2014, our tariff will be £2.10 for all meals served leaving schools with 20p per meal funding which is to be used to support the delivery of UIFSM.

Mid day supervision will be key and dining room and lunch time arrangements advice can be provided by Client Catering Officers at Babcock FourS.

This is a challenging time for all of us and we are committed to helping you deliver this universal benefit based on well researched evidence that a hot meal enjoyed in the company of others improves educational outcomes.

We look forward to working with you to help every Reception and KS1 child benefit from a FSM.


Briefing To the Head teacher November 2013 - No 1

This is the first in a series of updates from Commercial Services (CS)

The School Food Plan and Universal Free School Meals (UIFSM) for R and KS1

It is very early days following the announcement of FSM at KS1. The announcement about funding is expected on Dec 4th as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement but we thought it would be helpful to provide an update so far.

It is an exciting time for school food. The Plan was launched in July and contains 16 recommendations. It can be viewed at

There are 3 key principles enshrined in the plan

  • Leadership and engagement of Head teachers
  • Give children what they care about
  • Whole School Approach

Page 135 is a checklist for Head teachers. The Plan is engaging and easy to read.

One of the 16 recommendations of the Plan is free School Meals for primary children and this has now been announced as a policy change with FSM to be provided for all KS1 to be implemented from Sept 2014.

This is a huge challenge and opportunity for all of us. It has implications for your kitchen and dining room, the lunch time organisation, food supply, staff recruitment and training.

The introduction of FSM at KS1 is based on sound evidence that well nourished children learn, behave and achieve better and are more likely to achieve of their best. It is a mechanism to tackle the growing obesity and diet related diseases crisis and together with other recommendations in the plan, aims to develop lifelong healthy eating habits, where food and its appreciation are key life skills.

In recognition of this OFSTEAD’s latest guidance published in September will cover:-

63. Observe Behaviour

64. Food Atmosphere

  • Behaviour and culture
  • Healthy lifestyle and dietary needs

CS has begun to plan and we have a strong base from which to start. Our standard menus are Silver Food for Life and we have a strong and enthusiastic management team. Over the next few months one of our team will make contract with you to make an appointment to assess your kitchen capability, talk through your school requirements and seek to build the information which will ensure we can work together to plan for a smooth implementation. We hope you will be able to accept the appointment request.

We look forward to working with you to help every KS1 child benefit from a free meal.

The service has also provided operational briefings as part of its communications strategy to all of its employees.