'It's appalling' - Parents were never told of school canteen's damning hygiene rating (From Times Series)
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'It's appalling' - Parents at Holly Park School in Friern Barnet were never told of canteen's damning hygiene rating
Parents were kept in the dark when a school canteen received the worst possible food hygiene rating from inspectors, it has emerged.
Children at Holly Park School, in Bellevue Road, Friern Barnet, were eating lunches prepared in an insect-infested kitchen for weeks – but their parents were never told.
The damning report by council inspectors was made public this week following a Freedom of Information request by the Times Series.
Governors and senior staff have known about the zero out of five rating, which means ‘urgent improvement necessary’, since the report was compiled in January.
But Sonya Karafistan, whose two children aged six and ten have regular school dinners at Holly Park, told the Times Series this afternoon that parents were not informed of the inspectors’ rating.
She said: “This is the first I’ve heard of it. It’s disgusting – appalling. The school owes it to the parents to inform them and give them the option to switch to packed lunches.
“Had I known the hygiene levels were so poor, I would have pulled my children out of school dinners immediately. It is horrific – I’m really quite angry about it.”
Mrs Karafistan led a parents’ campaign last year against a proposed expansion of Holly Park School – proposals which have since been shelved by the council.
And she said she was horrified at the lack of transparency from the school on what she describes as “a major failing”.
She said: “There is a history of a lack of communication between the parents and the governing body and this is another example.
“When we challenged them about expansion, the condition of the school was one of the things we brought up, but they didn’t mention anything.
“This isn’t a question of investment or expansion, or strategic decisions – it’s looking after the basic health of children. Every parent should be able to expect that from their school.
“They should have informed parents immediately. It is a gross failing on behalf of the school and the local authority.”
The inspectors’ report in December listed 21 breaches of its food hygiene standards including inappropriate work surfaces, peeling paint, broken flooring and cobwebs and insects above food preparation areas.
A council spokesperson said in a statement: “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.”
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