Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills
The Healthy Eating in Schools (Wales) Measure 2009 (“the Measure”) was passed by the National Assembly for Wales in plenary on 8 July 2009 and received Royal Approval on the 15 October 2009. The Measure gives legislative foundation to the approach that the Welsh Government is taking forward via Appetite for Life, our agenda for improving the food and drink provided in schools.
In 2011, I agreed a timetable for commencing the provisions in the Measure and for making regulations setting out the requirements and standards for food and drink provided on the premises of schools maintained by local authorities. However, the timescale for making regulations in respect of primary schools has had to be revised to enable compliance with the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive 98/23/EC (“the Directive”). The Directive is intended to help avoid the creation of new technical barriers to trade within the European Union. To comply with the Directive the Welsh Ministers must submit the regulations in draft to the EU Commission and then observe a standstill period of a minimum of 3 months. The regulations cannot therefore be laid before the National Assembly for Wales during this period. The regulations fall within the scope of the Directive because they make provision setting out mandatory requirements and nutrient based standards for foods and drink provided in primary and secondary schools maintained by local authorities in Wales.
It is our intention to forward the draft regulations to the EU Commission in the autumn term with a view to laying the draft regulations before the National Assembly for Wales early 2013. However, this timescale is dependent on a number of factors including the EU Commission and any Member State being satisfied that the regulations do not require amendment to eliminate or reduce any barriers to trade and that no significant amendments need to be made to the draft regulations as a result of the proposed consultation in relation to Wales.
I have agreed to consult on the draft regulations during the 3 month period that they are with the EU Commission. The consultation will not only enable pupils and other persons to comment on the content of the regulations but also reinforce the importance of healthy eating, particularly for pupils who may not have been involved in previous consultations and raise the profile of our Appetite for Life agenda.
I have also agreed that the following duties imposed by the Measure on local authorities or governing bodies should come into force for primary schools at the same time that the food and drink regulations in relation to primary schools come into force. This will prevent ambiguity about when their new responsibilities will start:
- Section 1. Duty on a local authority and governing bodies of maintained schools to take action to promote healthy eating and drinking by registered pupils of maintained schools in its area.
- Section 2. Duty on the governing bodies of maintained schools in Wales to include in the governors’ reports information on the action taken to promote healthy eating and drinking by pupils of the school.
- Section 5. Duty on a local authority to ensure that drinking water is available, free of charge, on the premises of any maintained school and to have regard to any guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers.
- Section 6. Duty on a local authority, or the governing body of a maintained school which provides school meals or milk, to encourage the take up of school meals or milk, and also to take reasonable steps to ensure that every pupil who is entitled to receive free school lunches and free school milk does receive them.
- Section 7. Duty on a local authority or governing body to take reasonable steps to ensure that a pupil cannot be identified by any person as a pupil who receives a free school lunch or free school milk, other than by an authorised person. This Section also places a duty on a local authority or governing body to take reasonable steps to ensure that teachers, any person employed at the school, any person working at the school on an unpaid basis, or any other person employed by the school or governing body, do not make disclosures about the fact that a pupil receives free lunches or free milk.
Section 3 of the Measure, which places a new duty on Estyn to keep the Welsh Ministers informed about actions taken at all maintained schools to promote healthy eating and drinking, will commence in September 2013, as originally planned.
In practical terms, the majority of maintained primary schools are already well on track for meeting the new requirements and standards. The revised timetable should not therefore have any adverse impact on the progress currently made by schools.
The timetable for commencing the provisions in the Measure and for introducing regulations for food and drink provided in secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units will remain unaffected. This means that regulations should come into force in September 2013 for those schools.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.