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Evaluating the impact of the ‘Big Eat In’

Published: January 2011


To evaluate the ‘Big Eat In’ (BEI) pilot, which aimed to encouraging Secondary 1 (S1) pupils to stay within school at lunchtime, enjoy a healthy school lunch and have the opportunity to take part in a lunchtime activity (e.g. football, dance and relaxation classes).

The BEI ran in eight secondary schools in Glasgow over the school year 2009/2010.


Pupils were positive about the ‘Big Eat In’

They thought that school meals were good value for money, good quality and healthy.

They considered the lunchtime activities to be one of the best aspects – for giving them something to do with their friends at lunchtime.

School staff were also positive about the Big Eat In

School staff reported a number of other positive impacts including:

  • improved safety;
  • reduced lateness;
  • better opportunities for pupils to get to know each other;
  • better opportunities for pupils to engage with teaching staff.

Pupil safety of paramount importance to parents/carers

Many parents/carers were reassured by the knowledge that their child was in school at lunchtime because:

  • they felt that S1 pupils were too young to be outside school at lunchtime;
  • they were concerned about the risk of injury from road traffic, getting into fights and ‘stranger danger’.

Staff and parents/carers concerned about mobile vans and shops near schools

School staff and parents/carers were very concerned about the continuing presence of mobile vans and shops near schools selling unhealthy food and drinks, which they felt undermined school-based attempts to promote healthy eating.

General consensus was that the BEI had been very successful

The general consensus of the pupils, parents/carers, staff and volunteers who took part in the evaluation was that the BEI:

  • had been very successful;
  • should continue;
  • should be extended to other schools in Glasgow and across Scotland.

Following the pilot, all eight secondary schools have continued the approach and seven more schools have introduced their own lunchtime ‘stay on site’ policies for S1 pupils.


  • Focus groups and interviews with pupils, parents and school staff.
  • Quantitative school meal uptake data from the eight pilot and two control schools.
  • Observational research of the school canteen and the environment outside the school at lunchtime.

Read the report

Read a short briefing paper