Ofsted inspectors will look at school meals as part of their overall judgement of schools and other education establishments, according to a new announcement.

>> The new Ofsted Common Inspection Framework will come into effect from September this year and will apply to all early years settings on the Early Years register, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers.

Inspectors will look at the extent to which schools are successfully supporting pupils to gain “knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy, including through exercising and healthy eating”.

In a letter to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food, Sean Harford, national director, schools, Ofsted, said: “Inspectors will look for evidence of a culture or ethos of exercise and healthy eating throughout their entire inspection visit, in classrooms as well as in the school canteen.

“They will look at the food on offer and visit the canteen to see the atmosphere and culture in the dining space and the effect this has on pupils’ behaviour.

“Inspectors will also speak to school leaders about how they help to ensue a healthy lifestyle for pupils helping them gain knowledge of a good diet, physical exercise and mental and physical wellbeing.”

Ofsted will be working with the School Food Plan team to develop appropriate resources to effectively inspect healthy eating and food in schools.

Myles Bremner, director of the School Food Plan, commented: “Ofsted have recognised the importance of inspecting a school’s approach to and delivery of a good school food culture, asking headteachers how their school supports pupil health and wellbeing. Ofsted understand the link between good and improved attainment, behaviour and culture.

“By visiting the school canteen, seeing the food on offer and asking relevant questions caterers can be confident that school food will be on the agenda for schools. Inspectors will also be assessing how the new cooking and food education curriculum is being delivered.”

Carrieanne Bishop, chair, Lead Association for Catering in Education, added: “LACA warmly welcomes Ofsted’s commitment to include school food in their inspection programme. Nutrition and food in schools is a vital part of the education process and we have long called for this to be taken into account during Ofsted inspections. The school food industry has made huge strides in the last 18 months and this latest development is a sign that this progress shows no signs of slowing down.”