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Jamie Oliver blasts Michael Gove over poor school food

The chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver has attacked rules set up by Michael Gove that allow academies to ignore nutritional guidelines.

Jamie Oliver

The chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver has attacked rules set up by Michael Gove that allow academies to ignore nutritional guidelines.

Mr Oliver has claimed that some of the education secretary's flagship academies are lowering nutrition levels among pupils and profiteering from junk food vending machines because they have been allowed to ignore national standards.

The TV chef and food campaigner says the substantial progress made over recent years in improving pupils' diets risks going into reverse because Mr Gove is allowing new waves of academy schools to ignore nutrient-based standards for state schools introduced by the last government in 2008.

Mr Oliver, who has campaigned for a decade to raise nutrition levels in school food, says he is "totally mystified" as to why headteachers of academies – schools freed from local authority control – are being allowed to determine what food should be on offer, while heads of maintained schools have to abide by the national standards.

Mr Oliver says that some academies are buying in food that would fail the nutrition tests that maintained schools have to meet. Others are making money from vending machines packed with sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks. Under the national rules, which are applied to other state schools, vending machines can only sell healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and bottles of water.

Pressure on Mr Gove has also mounted since the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith tabled a Commons motion praising Oliver's campaigning and calling on the secretary of state to amend the regulations "to require academies and free schools to adhere to the standards for school food so that the one million children now attending these schools can benefit from this commitment to their health and wellbeing". The motion has been signed by 54 MPs.

While praising Oliver for the work he has done, Gove insists that academies should not be covered by the national rules because their headteachers can be trusted to deliver the best for their pupils.

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