Peckish pupils use latest technology to choose favourite school meals

Coun Joan Atkinson joins St Aloysius Primary Federation pupils Ethan Holmes and Jessica Kane, with cook in charge Judith Todd.
Coun Joan Atkinson joins St Aloysius Primary Federation pupils Ethan Holmes and Jessica Kane, with cook in charge Judith Todd.

Peckish pupils in South Tyneside are using the latest technology to speed up lunch times and choose their favourite meals.

Four primary schools are now using a SmartBoard pre-order lunch system, allowing youngsters to choose their main course before the dinner bell rings.

The system is operated by the classroom SmartBoard, with pupils going to the board one at a time to tap their photo on the screen.

Pupils click on their choice of meal or click a picture of a house if they go home for lunch - or a picture of a lunch box if they take packed lunch.

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families at South Tyneside Council, said: “Because children make their minds up in the classroom, rather than in the lunch queue, we have been able to speed up lunchtimes of between 10 and 15 minutes, which means lessons after lunch start on time.”

The system is set up with allergen and medical diet information.

For example, if a child with an egg allergy tries to choose a quiche, the menu will flash, prompting the child to pick something else.

The scheme was piloted at St Aloysius School in Hebburn. headteacher at the school, Nick Conway, said: “Using the new Smartboard system ensures pupils always receive their first choice and they enjoy choosing from the menu each morning rather than waiting until lunchtime so see what is available.

In addition to St Aloysius, Whitburn Village Primary School and St Mary’s RC and Fellgate primary schools in Jarrow and have already implemented the scheme.

The costs are shared equally between the school and the council.