Please visit our school website at:
My name is Glyn Owen and I am a Year 2 teacher at Ashton Vale Primary School in Bristol. I have been teaching here for about 12 years now but before I turned my life around to become a teacher I worked in the restaurant and café industry for a number of years. In the last 5 years these two career paths have joined together as I now head up the healthy eating projects in school and help with healthy eating projects in other schools as part of the Bristol Healthy Schools initiative.
This has become a real passion for me as I see the health problems our country is facing and will face in the future. I believe these problems which often stem from lifestyle choices can be overcome through education and helping people make the right choices. The younger this education / training happens the easier it is accepted as children soak up new ideas so easily and they can then carry these ideas for a healthy lifestyle with them for life (hopefully).
Ashton Vale is an urban area of Bristol with a real village atmosphere to it. Lots of the children come from families who have lived in the area for a couple of generations although this is changing as we welcome more children who are moving into the area. The village atmosphere was a major factor when we first started our healthy eating projects as we had to win around the parents and help them see that we had their children’s best interests at heart. So when we started our healthy lunchbox project we made sure it was a voluntary project, in that the children didn’t have to show their lunchbox to their teacher but if they wanted the chance of winning a prize they would need to. This helped us handle the parents who argued that we didn’t “have the right to tell us what to put in a child’s lunchbox.” We have now run 4 different healthy lunchbox projects along similar lines at the school (we keep changing them to keep the ideas fresh) and they do work! I am very much in agreement with all the ideas in the School Food Plan (which is such a fantastic document) but it is a huge undertaking to change the food a school serves (but not impossible as we have seen). Improving the packed lunches is something that all schools can do, even if (like us) they are tied into a contract with a caterer . The School Food Plan has a vision for 70% of children eating school meals (Pg 25) which I will support whole heartedly as I know even a mediocre school meal will provide more nutrition than the average packed lunch, but what about the other 30%? If they are eating a packed lunch rather than eating from local takeaways I want to see these children bringing in a healthy, tasty, nutritious lunch which hopefully they have had involvement in preparing / choosing. Not only will the child have a great lunch to see them through the day but if they have the knowledge about what makes a healthy packed lunch they have that nutrition knowledge for life!
Since Easter 2013 I have regularly been using Twitter as a means of sharing ideas around healthy eating. For someone who is pretty unfamiliar with social media (I have never had a need to use Facebook and it used to take me a lifetime to send a text) this has come as a bit of a surprise to me (even more so to my wife). I have made some great contacts from around the U.K. (and U.S.A.) who have supported me, challenged me and made me realise that I am not alone in what I am doing. Jo Wotton@littlebunny69, Mark Webster@izword and The School Food Plan have all been amazing in keeping me going along this path. Thank you to you all. I also find it a great way of sharing the work we do at Ashton Vale. We have created a lot of resources and it seems a waste to just keep them, we would rather share them and help other schools to improve the lives of their pupils.
I hope to get the chance to share more ideas in future blogs, so watch this space to hear about lopsided chickens, carrots entering the sports day races and the sheer joy of seeing children tasting something new and smiling with surprise!
Please visit our school website at: