No Hat, No Play

When I did some work in Australian schools, that was The Mantra – very clear!! Everyone stuck to it – every adult acted on it. This year, in the heatwave, I have been really amazed and worried at how lax we are in the UK – many schools did not swing into any decisive action. The truth is (I know – I eat in dining halls twice a week with children) most children are not drinking water – unless you have a dining hall water policy – where the children can’t exit until someone has checked that they have drunk their water. (Actually in many dining halls, because there are no clear agreed systems, loads of children are slipping out the dining hall without anyone noticing they have not eaten their food or drunk any water!) Then there are great schools like Westfield Infant School in Leicester, ably headed up by Jill McLaughlin (do see website manager’s notes about the food award that they won!) and her team who I have been working with for many years, where her children have proper tall beakers and because the 300 children strong school is passionate about food and water, the children are too and they love it. However, I also know that in many schools, a lot of children complain about the state of the beakers and water fountains and it puts them off drinking water.

Once they are outside, it is hit and miss as to whether their teachers have remembered to take out the box of children’s individual water bottles into a shady spot (and that’s if that school has an ‘Access To Water All Day Policy’). Schools who don’t, mutter that children can access the water fountain. These are useless – there is always a queue and you are lucky if you get a mouthful before you are elbowed out of the way and I know children who won’t drink out of them because they don’t look clean and some children, in an attempt to drink, put their mouth up to it which puts everyone else off!

The other day, I saw a class of year 6 pupils bolt their food down, throwing lots of it on the floor, so that they managed to get 50 minutes of football on the big, dry, unshaded field. Then they went straight from football into class – dehydrated and physically and emotionally at boiling point. Come on everyone – let’s get back to common sense and revisit our Whole School Dining Hall Policy, our Lunchtimes Policy and our No Hat, No Play Policy.

You can read about great lunchtimes and dining halls systems in “How to Create Calm Dining Halls” Calm Dining Halls


Website Manager’s Notes

  1. Jill McLaughlin and Westfield Infant School have been growing their own vegetables to contribute to the school lunches as part of The Soil Association’s Food for Life programme.  (You can see the blog on this special award here.) The school even won their “Gold Award”! The project at the school was filmed film as part of a film called “Food the future of medicine” and this was shown at the College of Medicine where it was warmly received. This was produced in partnership with the College of Medicine and ITN ProductionsYou can see the film HERE
  2. Although some sunshine is great for our health, too much sunshine give us too much UV light – and UV light is a Class 1 carcinogen and causes skin cancer. It’s best when teachers can role model wearing a hat.
  3. To find out more about Jenny’s training for lunchtimes and playtimes, just call 01225 767157 or email
  4. For a great, fun and informative book about fruits and vegetables with accessible recipes for children, see Wally Wheelbarrow’s Guide for Healthy Eating.
  5. For dining hall inspiration, see our colourful and inspirational fruit and vegetable posters.
  6. To see the film for yourself, just click the link
  7. Here are some more useful Food for Life weblinks if you are interested in finding out more.
  8. Here are some more links to the Food for Life project:Food for thought film – Food for Life