A school that was given the lowest possible food hygiene rating by inspectors is not looking to replace its canteen contractor, according to a senior governor.
Holly Park Primary School, in Bellevue Road, Friern Barnet, was handed a ‘zero’ out of five rating, meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’, during a visit by council inspectors in December.
But more than four months on, the school is sticking with canteen managers Team Barnet, despite claims from governor of ten years Brian Salinger that “they only clean as high as the kitchen staff can reach”.
Cobwebs and insects were found covering the ceilings of the primary school kitchen, along with a further 20 contraventions that inspectors said threatened the contamination of food.
The kitchen was deemed to have “no pest control compliance”, while staff were found using broken electrical sockets and extension leads.
An electric bug killer was found full of dead insects in the damning report, published one month after the inspectors’ visit.
Peeling paint, broken flooring and inappropriate work surfaces were also criticised, while a ceiling skylight was found covered in mould and condensation and the ventilation throughout the kitchen was considered inadequate.
It remains unclear whether parents were informed about the inspectors’ verdict at the time of the report.
School governor and local councillor Mr Salinger said improvements had been made at the school, which is planning to install a new kitchen next term.
But he also said there were no plans to change the canteen contractor, Team Barnet, which is managed by Barnet Council.
He said: “We’re not actively looking to change, no. I was made aware that we had a problem at the time of the report and we have been in ongoing discussions with the council to have the kitchen replaced – we have been told we’re a priority.
“I don’t know if parents were told – I’m not aware of every correspondence that is sent out. As far as I know though, no parents have expressed any concerns.
“One of the problems we had was that the kitchen managers only cleaned as high as the staff could reach. But it largely came down to a lack of communication between Team Barnet and the school.”
Asked how the parents at the school should feel about the report, Councillor Salinger added: “They should feel reassured that these issues have been dealt with.”
A council spokesperson said: “The inspection highlighted a number of health and safety issues regarding maintenance issues at the school, which is not uncommon in older premises such as these.
"It is important to note the food hygiene and handling was rated as good. Environmental health officers have been working closely with the catering manager to remedy the issues and a recent inspection rated this as good.
"£150,000 has been allocated for substantial kitchen refurbishment at Holly Park. This is a substantial task which will happen during the summer break.”
The Times Series submitted a Freedom of Information request to Barnet Council to obtain a copy of the Holly Park School food hygiene report more than two weeks ago.
Despite having yet to respond to the Times Series’ initial request, Barnet Council this week sent the report to a Barnet blogger, who had made the same request one week later than the newspaper. The council blamed the situation on its administration procedures.