Nutrition at Oakdale
Many pupils who attend Oakdale School can present with sensory processing differences that make some foods intolerable. This could be due to the texture, smell or simply the fact that the foods are not within their list of ‘acceptable’ and ‘preferred’ items. Whilst this particular sensory processing difference is not linked exclusively to the pupils in school with an ASC, it is frequently observed in this particular cohort.
In order to encourage and support pupils to develop a wider acceptance of foods, classes will plan and incorporate regular ‘Fun with Food’ sessions into their curriculum. Within such sessions, pupils are given the opportunity to explore and experience new and unfamiliar foods at their own pace – with no pressure to taste or eat these. Such sessions may begin by focusing on introducing children to food items that are similar in nature to items already enjoyed by the individual (e.g. introducing Cocoa-Pops to a pupil who already enjoys Rice Krispies). Over time, the texture and consistency of these may move from dry to wet in order to introduce the pupil to a new texture.
Food Technology and cookery sessions also form part of the weekly curriculum. These allow pupils opportunities to further develop awareness and confidence with new and unfamiliar foods through practical and functional activities.
Whilst cooked dinners are provided for pupils at Oakdale, the school acknowledges and respects that some pupils may prefer to bring packed lunches to school in order to support with their limited food preferences.
Pupils are encouraged to eat together with their classmates in the school dining hall, in order to promote eating as a social and enjoyable activity. For some pupils with sensory processing difficulties, where heightened noise, increased numbers of people and the smell of different foods can cause discomfort and anxiety, this is not an appropriate environment and smaller, quieter areas for dining are available within the school.
Should any concerns be raised with regards to a pupil’s ability to thrive as a result of their restricted food choices and preferences, the class teacher (in the first instance) will complete a referral to the dietician and/or school nurse for children with complex needs.
It is also recognised that certain food items (such as chocolate buttons, crisps, raisins) can also be highly motivating food items for individual pupils. When supporting pupils to develop a functional communication system and use communication with intent, such items will be used in order to encourage pupils to initiate requests.
You can download an example of a typical school dinner menu below.
Food Standards Agency
Oakdale School has a Food Hygiene Rating of Very Good (5). Follow the link below for more information.