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Improving the dining experience for pupils in Years 3 - 6 - trial period

This week in school we have been working with pupils in Years 3 to 6 to improve their dinning experience. This has included some tweaks to our routines. 

Before the half-term holidays we noticed that some pupils were not always showing our core value of respect during lunchtimes. Some poor eating habits had appeared, including eating while standing up, not taking the time to use knives and forks properly, some pupils eating quickly or throwing away food to get outside and others were being left to eat alone and becoming more isolated.  

We have reviewed our routines so that we are providing a more positive dining experience for all pupils. This includes pupils coming into the dining room or main hall straight from class, as a year group. Pupils can sit with their friends from other classes. Once everyone is seated pupils are then invited to collect their meal as a table group, eating together. This replaces the queuing system we had previously, and reduces anxiety about where to sit!

Those pupils who have lunchtime commitments are able to eat and leave their table when they have finished their meal. When most pupils on a table have finished eating, they are asked to go out and play, leaving slower eaters to enjoy the rest of their meal. As the meal service for the next age group begins, slower eaters have been grouped together to finish their food, giving them time to eat in comfort with others from their own age group while making space for the next age group.  

So far this week, fast eaters have sat for longer, eaten more, wasted dramatically less and sat talking to all pupils in their class.

Pupils have been keen to share their views about the new arrangements with staff. One year 5 pupils made me smile yesterday, he stopped me in the dining room to say, 'At the beginning of the week I thought these arrangements would never work, but now I think you might be right and you are on to a good thing!' A Year 4 pupil told Miss Allen, 'It’s really helpful using what we’ve learnt in MindUP to help us with the new lunchtimes. There used to be really long queues. Now we have to be more mindful, staying calm and being patient to wait for our friends. Our brain can stay relaxed.'

The new meal arrangements are in a trial period which is being tweaked day by day. We will continue to see what is happening first-hand, hear views from pupils, evaluate and make changes.

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