Forthcoming changes to school building regulations could put the brakes on the number of kitchen projects carried out in the education sector, experts have suggested.
Current guidelines issued under Labour recommend certain provisions for various school facilities, including kitchens and canteens.
However, according to today’s Daily Telegraph, ministers have cut more than 30 pages from the guidelines, with no mention of dining facilities contained in the new version.
Existing regulations stated that schools must provide buildings which “allow for the preparation or serving of food and drinks and the washing of crockery and other utensils” — as well as adequate facilities such as cold storage for packed lunches.
The paper said the revised section for school food simply reads: “School premises and the accommodation and facilities provided therein must be maintained to a standard such that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of pupils are ensured.”
The news has drawn criticism from associations such as LACA, which insist that the failure to have kitchen and dining facilities clearly specified within the new regulations contradicts the government’s efforts to reduce child obesity and encourage healthy eating.
The Department for Education reportedly insisted the new measures were intended to remove pages of bureaucratic restrictions that will make it easier and cheaper to provide new school places.
Officials also point out that issues such as canteens are covered by separate guidelines and deny that this would allow schools to drop them altogether.
However, the paper said critics of the move claim that the streamlined regulations will result in a drop in standards.
The new School Premises Regulations 2012 will come into force at the end of October.