Brexit: Schools told to explain plans for food stockpiling in event of no-deal next month

Minister asks academy chains and councils to set out preparations ahead of 31 October

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 19 September 2019 11:35 BST
Pupils become distracted, moody and disruptive in lessons because of hunger, teachers say
Pupils become distracted, moody and disruptive in lessons because of hunger, teachers say (iStock)

Schools have been asked to explain their plans for ensuring there is enough food in case of a no-deal Brexit.

Education minister Lord Agnew has urged schools, councils and academy chains to contact suppliers to ensure they will be able to continue providing food if Britain leaves the EU on 31 October without a withdrawal agreement in place.

The letter, seen by the Times Educational Supplement (TES), asks the bodies to complete a survey by next week.

It says they should ensure that guidance on food supplies, medicine and data protection is followed, according to the report by TES.

The letter comes after a survey this week revealed that some British universities had already begun stockpiling supplies – including toilet roll and food – amid fears that the UK will leave the EU without a deal.

The letter from Lord Agnew, minister for the school system, says: “The government is already engaging with a wide range of school food stakeholders, including working directly with suppliers, to support industry preparedness and ensure continuous supply ahead of 31 October.

“This is to ensure that suppliers are making the necessary arrangements to continue the supply of food to schools, and to make sure that schools can continue to meet nutritional standards, accommodate special dietary needs and manage allergies.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said: "It is not reasonable to expect school leaders to ensure food supplies to schools post-Brexit when the government is not able to do so for the country itself.

"There is enormous uncertainty facing schools and businesses over Brexit, and no one is currently able to give any guarantees."

He added: "Instead of passing the problem over to individual schools to try and solve, the government must urgently ensure that vulnerable children are protected from any interruptions to food or medicine supplies, and provide the proper clarity and reassurances to schools and to families about how Brexit will affect them."

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “This government is working hard to get a deal but we must be prepared to leave the EU on 31 October, whatever the circumstances.

“The DfE has already made extensive EU exit preparations, including providing guidance for schools and councils to help them ensure a smooth transition.

“We continue to work with our stakeholders to make sure they are aware of what they need to do and are as best prepared as they can be.”

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Earlier this year, advice issued by Kent County Council warned that schools could be forced to go into “lockdown” in the wake of a no-deal Brexit as air pollution could worsen from traffic congestion.

The report also warned that severe traffic could lead to teacher shortages, disruption to exams and deliveries of food, fuel and medicines could be negatively affected.

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