Virtual Schoolbag (VSB)

17 Sep 2018
Business managers, bursars and secretaries, headteachers of all primary, special, all-through schools
For information
Catering contract update and UIFSM

A contract update and info on free school meals.

We are currently writing the new tender documents, utilising the feedback we have had from the school meals survey. I will be contacting schools/academies in November with fuller details and asking for confirmation that you will participate in the next contract. You can still complete the survey.

If you would like to be involved during the procurement process please contact me via email I will be issuing a meeting date for October.

We will be issuing the invitation to tender early December with the view to having the bids returned by late January 2019. From then on we will evaluate and award mid-April 2019.

UIFSM Update

We have been reviewing the UIFSM data and East Sussex currently have on average 79% uptake in East Sussex. In some schools uptake is significantly below this, which means these schools are missing out on funding for providing UIFSM. In an effort to increase uptake Chartwells will be offering a special menu for each Census Day which will be communicated to you via email. I have also written a sample letter (please see below) which you can send out to parents/carers to encourage their children to take this free meal on Census Days which will hopefully lead to more children eating over the rest of the school year.

In summary The DfE are funding schools £2.30 per meal based on 87% of KS1 (who are non FSM) electing to have a UIFSM. This is then adjusted based on the actual uptake recorded during the October and January Census Days. Therefore it is vital for schools to ensure that they have a high uptake of UIFSM on these two days to ensure that they are funded adequately by the DfE for UIFSM.

I will also be reviewing the data at an individual school level and will contact the schools with low uptake alongside Chartwells to discuss how we can assist in promoting uptake in your school.

I will be at the Bursar’s forum in November and will be able to provide an update, if you have any questions in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me.

Example Letter to Parents

Dear Parents / Carers

Census Day and UIFSM – Thursday 4th October 2018

On Thursday 4th October 2018, it is national School Census Day and in an effort to increase the uptake of the Universal Infant Free School Meal (UIFSM) on that day, Chartwells have a special Halloween themed menu with the children’s favourites. The menu for that day will be: Stewed Eyeballs Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Petrifying Pasta or Witches Cauldron Smokey Mac N Cheese with Gory Garlic Bread, Peas and Carrots and for dessert Strawberry Jelly Slime and Vanilla Eye-Scream. There will also be a jacket potato on offer on this day.

Census Day is when the Local Authorities collect information electronically from every school in their area, partly to guide them in planning and funding. They collect details such as pupil numbers, numbers of pupils with Special Educational Needs, entitled to Pupil Premium funding, entitled to Free School Meals, attendance information and so forth. One thing in particular they are looking at this term is the number of children taking the Universal Infant Free School Meal (UIFSM), to provide schools with appropriate funding for this service such as utility costs.

To maximise our potential funding, we would encourage all families with children entitled to UIFSM to enjoy their free meal on Thursday 4th October, rather than bringing a packed lunch that day.

It is the amount of children in Key Stage One eating the free meal on the actual day’s lunchtime that informs our funding, rather than meals ordered for that day or children attending school. Pupils who bring a packed lunch from home unfortunately are not able to be included, nor are children who normally take UIFSM, but who are absent on 4th October.

Once again, we encourage as many as possible to commit to eating the UIFSM on Thursday that week; this will record those children as having eaten on Census Day and therefore count towards the total Government funding that will be allocated to our school for UIFSM for a whole year.

Hopefully it will also create some enthusiasm amongst the children who don’t normally take the meals and lead to more of them eating over the rest of the school year.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sarah Hungerford
Sarah Hungerford
Senior Contract Officer

Phone: 07803 500276