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food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind

Chineham Park Primary School

SCHOOL GRADES SUCCESS WITH FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Results of the first UK pilot project in an underperforming Primary School reveal significant improvements in SAT scores, behaviour, concentration, ADHD symptoms and impulsiveness through a change in diet, plus daily supplements and exercise. The results were shown on 'Tonight with Trevor Macdonald' on Friday 13th July.

Impressive changes in behaviour and school performance by including children in the ‘Food for the Brain Project’ were revealed today. This pilot project has supported the transformation of a primary school at the bottom end of the DFES’s performance tables. After following an optimal diet, supplement and exercise programme for eight months, along with improvements in the quality of teaching and learning, the school’s SAT scores have improved markedly. There has also been a significant improvement in the majority of children’s attitudes, behaviour, attention and learning abilities.

 

THE RESULTS

Following a history of underachievement and low SAT scores Chineham Park Primary School in Basingstoke, Hampshire, is under a ‘notice to improve’ by Ofsted inspectors. Whilst SAT scores improved in 2006 participation in the Food for the Brain Project has helped the school to make further improvements in all core subjects. The proportion of pupils achieving the government’s target score of 4+ in English is up from 71% to 86%, from 50% to 71% in Maths and from 50% to 64% in Science. “We are really delighted with these results.” Says Gwen Clifford, the school head. “The Food for the Brain project has had a very positive impact in school.”

At the start and completion of this 8-month project parents and teachers rated various aspects of the children’s learning ability and behaviour on a widely used Conners test.

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Parent Conners ratings demonstrate how pupils at Chineham Park Primary School in Basingstoke, Hampshire have made impressive improvements at a high level of statistical significance (p<0.001) in a number of measures including:

    • Lack of concentration and inattention (12% improvement)
    • ADHD symptoms (13% improvement)
    • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness (13% improvement)
    • Parents also recorded the children as less defiant and better behaved

Teacher Conners ratings also showed improvements in similar scales, notably at a high level of statistical significance (p<0.001) in:

  • Lack of concentration and inattention (9% improvement)
  • ADHD symptoms (9% improvement)
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness (9% improvement)

While these results occurred for the school as a whole, children who had initial ratings above 60 at the outset, indicating learning, attention and behaviour difficulties, showed greater degrees of improvement.

These results are consistent with the improvements in the SAT score results which showed marked improvements in all subjects. According to educational psychologist Melanie Herff, who analysed the results: “These results are very encouraging. With one in six children in Britain, and one third of children in this school, having special educational needs, it is vital that this approach be further explored.”

The Food for the Brain Initiative involved:

          • Increasing awareness of the link between food and mental health with cookery workshops for both children and parents and educational activities with the children growing their own vegetables.
          • Improvements in the Breakfast Club and healthier school lunches (click here to see a typical 'before' and 'after' diet).
          • A ban of sugary drinks and sweets
          • Daily supplementation with a multivitamin (Higher Nature’s Dinochews) and an essential fat supplement (Equazen’s Eye Q)
          • Daily SAQ exercises (Speed Agility Quickness)

All the children were assessed before, during and after the project, by both parents and teachers, completing Conners ratings to establish the effect that the diet and exercise regime had on their performance.

Patrick Holford, Chief Executive for the Food for the Brain Foundation says: “For the first time we have combined diet, supplements and exercise while measuring changes in the children’s behaviour and learning in a primary school. Earlier this year we reported dramatic improvements in a school for children with special educational needs. Significant improvement in most measures of learning, behaviour and attention have occurred following the same winning formula of daily supplements, improved diet and exercise. The SAT scores have greatly improved and some children with the most challenging behaviour and learning problems have improved dramatically.

The children are much more aware of what food is good for the brain. They are growing their own vegetables, most are eating fruit every day and the now healthier Breakfast Club attendance has gone from 8% to almost 40% attendance. School meals have improved, but this hasn’t resulted in a drop off in school dinners, as has been seen in other schools. We have helped Chineham Park School, parents and children develop a new culture around food and nutrition that is sustainable and affordable.”

Gwen Clifford, Head Teacher of Chineham Park School comments: “We are delighted with our results and the progress that is evident across the school. The project has had a very positive impact in many different ways. Children are much more aware of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. As a result, they are happier, have improved attitudes towards themselves, their school and their learning. I have no doubt that the Food for the Brain project has helped us to move forward. We've also been able to complete our work to gain the National Healthy Schools Award. The Food For The Brain Project should be a project for all children and families anywhere and everywhere.” Other teachers also noticed improvements. “There is a much more positive attitude to learning. Children don't seem so hungry or excitable and they are much more willing to have a try at everything” says class teacher Barbara Thomson.

Click here to read what the children and parents say

Click here to read what the experts say

 

THE NEXT STEP

Holford concludes: “The scale of these results could not been achieved by diet alone. This project suggests that an improved diet, plus supplements and daily exercise might be a winning formula combined with good quality teaching and an exciting curriculum. Our next task is to find out exactly what is making the difference – is it the diet, the supplements, the exercise, the change in awareness or all of it.

However, the key is involving parents and children every step of the way to take on board a healthier lifestyle. Not all parents participated but many did make positive changes. We hope that transformations like this will make the Government sit up and listen and provide the necessary funding for further research and support the Food for the Brain project in other schools in Britain.”

Parents all over Britain can participate in the Food for the Brain project by testing their child’s diet and performance with the Child Health and Diet Questionnaire, a FREE on-line profile that gives personalised advice on simple changes to make to maximise their child’s potential.