Unless you’re a teacher or, to an extent, a current parent, you’re probably unaware of how much the school system has evolved since you left. Most people’s vision of school is stuck in the time in which they attended. Children of the 70s and 80s think about their milk cartons and dusty blackboards, 90s kids remember the privilege that came with it being their class’ turn to use the school’s three computers. But step into a school in 2018 and you might be shocked to see how much has changed.
Blackboards were replaced with whiteboards, then with interactive boards.
The boxy computer was replaced by screens in every room, and then by student-dedicated tablets.
Fish paste sandwiches became Turkey Twizzlers and were then replaced, in the revolution of Jamie’s School Dinners, with British Farm Assured chicken fillets and salad.
And it’s not just the food being served that has changed the make-up of the school lunch.
Does anyone else remember the free-for-all that was the school lunch queue? If you didn’t have a packed lunch you needed to get there quick in order to pick up some chips before they ran out and you were left with smash. Or you had to eat Angel Delight on a pie crust because the jam roly poly was all out? Well, those days are gone as well.
In 2018 pre-ordering technology – supplied by the likes of us – has made the school lunch scrummage a much gentler affair. Yes, thanks to ordering apps and websites, students and their parents can actually order their meals in advance of the school week – seeing and selecting from the menus online. And, because there’s always one, teachers can fill in the gaps for the ‘student that forgot’ during morning registration. Once in the canteen the child just needs to scan their student card – or announce their presence on the touchscreen – and the staff hand over their order.
The positive outcome for children and their families is obvious. Greater control over meals and nutrition and no shoving and rivalry in the lunch queue. For the school catering companies the benefits are even greater, knowing what needs to be served each week leads to much greater stock control, a huge reduction in waste and therefore a much better profit margin. Further, because the meals are all recorded electronically, the caterers can quickly spot patterns in orders and adjust their menus accordingly. Knowing that the ‘salmon en croute’ isn’t a popular choice means it can be replaced with something that is. The result? Happier children, profitable catering companies and satisfied schools.
Now if they could just bring back the school milk….