Acle Academy increases dinner size amid cost of living crisis

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Published:
7:30 a.m. May 23, 2022



Schools have increased the size of their lunches and introduced cheaper uniforms as part of a series of measures to help families struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Senior executives say they are looking for ways to ease the financial burden on families, fearing children’s education will suffer due to pressure on living standards.

A survey of schools in the area revealed a series of innovative measures introduced in an effort to help, including:

  • Price reductions on break snacks
  • Distribution of leftover food to families
  • Delivery of donated bicycles to enable students to get to school
  • Organization of discount sales of second-hand uniforms, to help parents reduce their expenses.


Daniel Thrower, Managing Director of Wensum Trust
– Credit: Wensum Trust

Wensum Trust, which runs several schools in Norfolk, is among those who have made a number of changes.

Daniel Thrower, its chief executive, said: “We believe that prioritizing an individual’s mental health and well-being lays the foundation for future relationships, better health, positive engagement and “successful learning. Therefore, our schools always seek to support families in every way possible.”

At Wells-next-the-Sea Elementary and Kindergarten, which is run by the trust, leftover fruits, vegetables and milk are distributed to parents on Fridays.

The school has also set up a second-hand uniform rail – so parents can help themselves with donated items – and has linked up with Wells Community Hospital to ensure families at low income can access additional help if they need it.

DONATED BIKES AND RECYCLED UNIFORMS

Various measures have been introduced at its secondary schools, including Hellesdon High and Acle Academy, including running a scheme to pass on donated bikes, check they are safe and then hand them over to students.

Mr Thrower added: “[We have] breakfast clubs, bus passes to support transport to school, free bikes, uniform and food vouchers and a recycled uniform at Hellesdon Secondary School.

“In recognition of the financial hardship many families are experiencing, Acle Academy has provided free breakfast to children who receive free school meals in addition to the government-funded free lunch.

“They have also increased the portion sizes of lunchtime meals and lowered the prices of snacks available at break time.

“The school has also liaised with its uniform suppliers and is introducing a significantly cheaper PE uniform from September.

“The PTA also runs a used uniform store to ensure that good quality uniforms can be repurposed.”

He also said that in the Trust’s secondary schools, students learn how to manage their budget effectively and the realities of the cost of running a household.

FREE DENTAL CHECKS

Another innovative program was launched at West Earlham Infant and Nursery, which provided free dental checkups for all of its pupils to help parents who were unable to get appointments or afford private treatment .

Deputy Headmaster Jade Hunter said: “We share messages on our school’s Facebook page if we see anything that could support our families like holiday clubs, centers that offer meals or cheaper broadband deals – anything that can help.

“The most critical part of that support though is the relationships. You need to have a relationship with the parents to be able to offer sensitive support in a way that won’t be belittling or condescending.”

PARTNERSHIP WITH GREGGS


Oliver Burwood has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Diocese of Norwich Education and

Oliver Burwood has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT). Photo: DNEAT
– Credit: DNEAT

Oliver Burwood, chief executive of the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academy Trust (DNEAT), said: “Many of our schools run free breakfast clubs, for example the Peterhouse Church of England Academy is in partnership with Greggs to s ensuring that children get the right start to their lives.

“Our schools also play a key role in signaling financial and other aid, so families know where to go.”

The link with Greggs saw some products distributed to students.

The Thomas Bullock CofE Primary Academy in Shipdham, part of the Trust, has set up a financial hardship fund to help families in financial difficulty.

Director Shannon O’Sullivan said: “We are all too aware of the impact the current cost of living crisis is having on our families.


Shannon O'Sullivan, principal of Thomas Bullock Elementary Academy.

Shannon O’Sullivan, principal of Thomas Bullock Elementary Academy.

– Credit: Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust

“We have a very strong relationship with our families and offer an open door policy for families to come and talk to us about anything we can help support them.

“If there’s anything we can do to help ease the pressure on our families, we will absolutely do our best to do it.”

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