Learning from the implementation of Universal Free School Meals in Scotland using normalisation process theory: lessons for policymakers to engage multiple stakeholders

Chambers, S. , Boydell, N. , Ford, A. and Eadie, D. (2020) Learning from the implementation of Universal Free School Meals in Scotland using normalisation process theory: lessons for policymakers to engage multiple stakeholders. Food Policy, 95, 101936. (doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2020.101936) (PMID:33041438) (PMCID:PMC7539368)

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Abstract

In 2014/15, Universal Free School Meals (UFSM) were introduced in Scotland and England for children in their first three years of primary school. This study examined the implementation of UFSM in Scotland using Noramlisation Process Theory (NPT), a middle-range theory of implementation, to identify areas of learning for policymakers wishing to introduce or extend similar policies. NPT is predominantly used to evaluate interventions or new technologies in healthcare settings. Qualitative data were collected across Scotland using a case study approach shortly after implementation (n = 29 school-level stakeholders) and in the following school year (n = 18 school-level stakeholders and n = 19 local authority-level stakeholders). Observations of lunchtime in each school were conducted at both timepoints. Data were analysed using a thematic framework approach using NPT constructs and sub-constructs. Results suggested education and catering stakeholders experiences of implementation diverged most around the NPT concepts of coherence, cognitive participation, and reflexive monitoring. Lack of coherence around the purpose and long-term benefits of UFSM appeared to reduce education stakeholders’ willingness to engage with the policy beyond operational issues. In contrast, catering stakeholders identified a direct benefit to their everyday work and described receiving additional resources to deliver the policy. Overall, participants described an absence of monitoring data around the areas of greatest salience for education stakeholders. This study successfully used NPT to identify policy learning around school meals. Policymakers must increase the salience of such intersectoral policies for all relevant stakeholders involved before policy implementation, and plan adequate monitoring to evaluate potential long-term benefits.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chambers, Dr Stephanie and Boydell, Dr Nicola
Creator Roles:
Chambers, S.Conceptualization, Methodology, Investigation, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft, Funding acquisition
Boydell, N.Investigation, Formal analysis, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Chambers, S., Boydell, N., Ford, A., and Eadie, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Food Policy
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0306-9192
ISSN (Online):1873-5657
Published Online:29 June 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Food Policy 95: 101936
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
168560MRC SPHSU/GU Transfer FellowshipsLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_PC_13027HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/12IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727661SPHSU Core Renewal: Complexity in Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/14IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU12
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU14