Schools could improve children’s behaviour by keeping them in lunch ‘bubbles’ inspired by Covid distancing, Gavin Williamson claims
- Gavin Williamson calls for school lunch ‘bubble’ extenton to improve behaviour
- The coronavirus bubble system saw pupils eating with same group every day
- Plan to be scrapped but School Minister claims there are ‘all sorts of benefits’
Schools should consider keeping children in lunch ‘bubbles’ this term to improve their behaviour, Gavin Williamson has suggested.
The Education Secretary is encouraging headteachers to extend the Covid measure because it has other benefits beyond restricting the virus.
The bubble system, which saw pupils eat with the same group every day to stop the virus spreading, has been scrapped for the new term this week.
The Education Secretary is encouraging headteachers to extend the Covid measure because it has other benefits beyond restricting the virus
However, Mr Williamson said headteachers found it a great opportunity to teach ‘family dining’ – including table manners and social skills.
He told the Mail: ‘It brings so many benefits – not just to children but to the whole ethos of the school…
‘Not all children will have that regular experience of being sat around a family dinner table. I think it’s an important part of their personal development and it supports… their educational development as well.’
Schools have autonomy over their behaviour policies and do not have to adopt Mr Williamson’s suggestion.
But even before the bubble system, family dining was adopted by a number of top schools to tackle poor behaviour.
It involves the same group of children eating together every day – as a family does – and learning how to lay tables, serve food, make conversation and clear up.
Often a teacher sits on the table to supervise and prompt, with each pupil given a different responsibility every day.
The philosophy behind family dining is that pupils get to know each other and feel motivated to do their duty to the others.
It is particularly valuable for children who do not have stable home lives, or do not regularly sit down to eat together.
Schools have autonomy over their behaviour policies and do not have to adopt Mr Williamson’s suggestion
Mr Williamson said it means children learning how to clean up after themselves, instead of relying on dinner ladies, and developing table manners.
‘It means bringing children together at lunchtime, making sure that they’re eating excellent healthy food, and [ensuring] that children actually understand what it’s like to be serving a meal for other children, and setting the table,’ he said.
‘But most importantly, having really thoughtful conversations around the table with their friends and actually helping them build those relationships.
‘And where schools have been doing this you see children benefit so much.
‘They’ve benefited in terms of their personal development, they’ve benefited in terms of discipline and behaviour within the school.’