Student councillors have backed school meal improvements designed to enhance nutrition and boost children’s ability to learn.

Wyvern Academy, Darlington, has introduced a menu of reforms in the dining hall to make school meals more balanced and reduce the reliance on sugary carbohydrates – in line with the Healthy Schools Agenda.

The national campaign began to address serious, specific health concerns particularly around alarming rates of childhood obesity.

Wyvern Academy introduced changes to ensure students were offered a diverse choice of quality food, from breakfast club before school to mid-morning snacks and healthy lunches, all made on site from fresh produce.

One student councillor said: “School lunches have greatly improved both in quality and quantity. The variety of food being made has been noticeable and has allowed more students to get the food they want.”

Another member added: “Quality-wise the food has improved and there are more people talking about how they are enjoying school lunches all days of the week, not just on Fridays when we are offered fish, the quality of which is also much better.”

Headteacher Owen Inglis said changes were introduced in line with research that saw a direct link between nutrition and brain function. This affected student behaviour and their ability to learn and achieve in their studies.

“For generations school meals have relied on high sugar, high fat and heavily processed foods which are not necessarily good for students’ health.” he said. “We are aiming to offer a more diverse menu which will be healthier, more balanced nutritionally and more appealing to young people.”

On the menu is more fresh quality meat, pasta, noodles, fruit and vegetables, all freshly prepared daily on site by the school’s catering team.

All students are offered a free school breakfast of fruit, cereal and toast before lessons begin. Additionally, Year 11 students are offered ‘Mastery Breakfasts’ of pain au chocolat and croissants, coupled with revision sessions as they prepare for their exams.

At morning break time students can have toast, bacon sandwiches or sausage patties. While lunch offers a range of food from hot baguettes and poached salmon salads to roast pork, turkey, and toad in the hole, with vegetables and gravy.

There are also pasta and vegetarian options to cater for the dietary requirements of all students. The menu also reflects themes in the school year such as Asian food during Diwali and British staples around Bonfire Night.

Mr Inglis added: “We have been seeking our community’s views on the review via our student council, parent newsletter and from students generally, so we can adapt the menus for the best reasons. We want to improve health and wellbeing and dialogue is essential in that.

“We have continued to see positive feedback in these discussions and will continue to make changes which meet the needs of our students and fall in line with the national Healthy Schools Agenda.”

For more information on Wyvern Academy, visit the school website at www.wyvernacademy.org.