The answer is, it depends what type of school you are and when the school was created.
If the school is a local authority maintained school, special school or a pupil referral unit then The Education (Nutritional Standards and Requirements for School Food) (England) Regulations 2007 apply. The Regs refer to standards which state that red meat must be provided at least twice a week in primary schools and at least 3 times a week in secondary schools. Oily fish such as salmon or mackerel must be provided at least once every 3 weeks. Therefore vegetarianism simply does not fit with the standards.
The position is slightly different for Academies and Free Schools. Academies established between September 2008 and September 2010 and post June 2014 must comply with the standards due to a clause in their Funding Agreements but Academies set up between October 2010 and May 2014 only have to refer to the standards as a guide; therefore a vegetarian school could be set up. However, the Department for Education are constantly pushing for new Academies/Free Schools to transfer over to the new Funding Agreements which oblige compliance with the standards.
So, is it fair that some schools can be a vegetarian school but others can’t? Providing a vegetarian diet provides all the nutrients suitable for pupils, why should schools be obliged to comply with food standards which conflict with their ethos or beliefs?
It will be interesting to see if any school picks this topic and runs with it on a Human Rights/Discrimination basis…
For further information please contact Jade Kent, Solicitor, in the education team at Michelmores, by telephone on 01392 687523 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.