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Tips on starting school

Nadiya Hussain is supporting ‘Be School Ready’, PTA UK’s national campaign to help families with children starting school in September

Exclusive interview with The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain

NH Nadiya with Bake Me A Story

Nadiya Hussain is supporting ‘Be School Ready’, PTA UK’s national campaign to help families with children starting school in September. The Be School Ready magazines, produced by PTA UK, which is also celebrating its 60th year, have been distributed providing both practical and emotional support for parents, carers and children so they can start school life with confidence.

Get your kids making their healthy after school snacks as well as eating them! Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story is a book of recipes and stories devised and written by Nadiya herself. Cook up a batch of Carrot and Nutmeg Cookies on a Sunday afternoon and share the story of Rapunzel’s Enchanted Carrots while the cookies bake or read about Ruby-Red and the Three Bears and their Very Berry Muffins while you wait for your own to rise! Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story publishes 8th September 2016 in hardback, priced £14.99


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As a mother of three very lively children it is safe to say that I have had my fair share of ‘mum I’m starving’ ‘how long before dinner?’, I’m so hungry’, ‘please can I have a crisp?’, ‘if I can’t have crisp, can I have a small biscuit?’. Whether you have one child, three like me or more, I know it’s the worst feeling trying to decide whether your child should have a snack or should I just let them have whatever they want. If not to just keep them quiet before dinner but ease your own guilt.

I spent years wondering what the right thing was to do during that very intense time between school pick up and dinner time. I will not lie, there have been times where I have just given the kids the easiest option, a packet of crisps, a small bar of chocolate, a biscuit (or two). But I noticed that the kids were like yoyos. After school the kids slumped, tired and exhausted from the day. They walk through the door and as I rush around they have a quick sweet treat and they are then the polar opposite, high as kites, excitable before the inevitable sugar crash to follow.

A few years ago I decided that I needed to overhaul my eating habits along with the kids. I just couldn’t do the constant peak and trough that come with lots of sugar all day long. Better eating habits didn’t mean taking everything away, it just meant eating sugar in moderation and incorporating more fruit and vegetables where possible. I thought it would be a difficult change to make when in fact the transition was the opposite of our sugar crashes and slumps. The transition was smooth.

One of the first things I knew I had to tackle was the time between school pick up and dinner. Upon picking the children up my first question is always ‘how was your day?’ and all three kids always respond with ‘Great, what’s for dinner?’ One of my first tips is that I always take a bottle of water (not chilled). I find children are weary of drinking chilled water because it’s cold and harder to drink quickly. So I take a bottle of water at room temperature and allow them to drink to their fill as soon as I see them. I never believe my children when I’ve asked them if they’ve drunk lots of water through the day. What I like to address is the fact that they may just be very thirsty.

As a fruitier alternative to plain water I like to have water bottles with wide necks and to this I add slices of oranges, kiwi and strawberries and leave it to infuse during the day and take that with me on the school run. Once they have drunk all the water they can finish the fruit inside too.

In between sorting the children, preparing for dinner, finishing emails and doing laundry, I always have a few snacks that I have pre prepared or snacks that can be quickly made. Here is a list of a few of our favourites:

  1. Frozen Yoghurt – small pots of yoghurt, I just pierce a lolly pop stick through the covering and stick the whole thing in the freezer. When frozen, peel off the top of the yoghurt pot and ease the frozen yoghurt out of its pot.
  2. Frozen Blueberry Yoghurt Sticks – take a wooden skewer and pierce it with about 10 blueberries. Dip the whole stick into yoghurt and place the sticks on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen take them off the sheet and place inside a freezer bag and store in the freezer.
  3. Apple and Peanut Rings – core and horizontally slice a green apple, spread the tops with smooth peanut butter and eat straight away.
  4. Houmous Celery Sticks – cut slices of celery sticks about 2 inches long. Fill the inside with houmous and serve.
  5. Summer Fruit Spring Rolls – take a circle of rice paper and soak for a few seconds till soft. Squeeze off any excess water and place down. Add any fruit, the more colourful the better and wrap like a spring roll.
  6. Boiled eggs – I like to keep boiled eggs in the fridge during the week. They are quick simple and nutritious and very easy to eat.
  7. Turkey Ham wrapped Cheese sticks – take a small stick of cheese and wrap around a slice of turkey ham.
  8. Mini omelettes – whisk up some eggs and add onion, cheese, chives and chopped peppers. Pour the mix into a 12 muffin cupcake tin and bake in the oven. Once cooled these can be stored for a week.
  9. Steamed edamame beans – these are great placed in a bowl, splashed with a little water and the covered in cling. Cooked in a microwave for 3 minutes and then sprinkled with salt and paprika.
  10. Plain popcorn – plain popcorn, quickly popped and a large handful is just enough.

In terms of drinks on a warm day I love to make the kids a quick cold smoothie after school and a nice warm drink on the colder school days.

Cold Drink – in a smoothie maker I like to add ice, mint, 1 green apple, the juice of a lime, half water and half apple juice and whizz.

Hot Drink – in a pan add coconut milk and heat up, to this I like to add unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract and honey, boil and serve.

These are all great ways to give the kids a little something to eat to take the edge off the hunger before dinner. But also a great way of getting some of their 5 a day in too.

This is just enough food to keep them sustained long enough to get on to help cook dinner in the kitchen with me, which is their favourite thing to do after school.

PTA UK marks its 60th year by launching Be School Ready Campaign


PTA UK marks its 60th year by launching

Be School Ready Campaign

    • PTA UK launches Be School Ready campaign with a magazine that aims to help mums, dads and kids get off to a great start this September
    • Includes an exclusive interview with The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain
    • Celebrity words of wisdom from Dom Joly, TV Medic Dr Ranj, TV presenter and author Clare Nasir and BBC6 Music presenter Chris Hawkins
    • Show-stopping snack ideas from this year’s Celebrity Masterchef Champion Kimberly Wyatt
  • The Be School Ready magazine also includes advice from experienced parents on starting school and how to play an active role in a child’s education, some fabulous offers and prizes as well as pull out activity pages for children

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Starting school is a huge milestone for children and parents alike. So, with two months to go before hordes of newly-uniformed four-year-olds pass through classroom doors for the first time, what can mums and dads do to prepare their children and themselves for the big day?, and limit the potential for tears – the children’s and theirs – on the big day?

PTA UK, the leading membership body for Parent Teacher Associations and a registered charity, is marking its 60th year by launching ‘Be School Ready’ campaign to support, engage and champion parents in education as well as PTAs. The Be School Ready magazine will be given to new parents nationwide by their school PTAs so that mums, dads and kids can get off to the best possible start and enjoy school life to the full.

The Be School Ready campaign helps to encourage parents to have a voice in strengthening their children’s education. Yet the first day of school can be just as daunting for parents, as it can be for children, especially when they’ve never experienced it before. Getting involved in a PTA is a fantastic opportunity to feel part of the school community and is particularly valuable for parents who have children starting school for the first time giving parents some much needed support, and showing them that no matter how much time they have to offer, their involvement in their child’s education need not end at the school gates.



The magazines are set to reach over 100,000 parents and will include a wealth of top tips from parents and an exclusive interview with Nadiya Hussain who won the sixth series of BBC’s The Great British Bake Off. Nadiya shares her secrets for dealing with the hunger gap between pick-up and dinner. Show-stopping snack ideas will also be featured from this year’s Celebrity Masterchef Champion, Kimberly Wyatt, mum to one-year-old Willow. Healthy and nutritious food is certainly one great way to limit the tears – for children and parents alike!

PTA UK asked celebrity parents to share their experiences of school life and provide words of wisdom for new starters. Comedian, writer and TV documentary maker Dom Joly who lives in Gloucestershire with his wife Stacey and children Parker.

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and Jackson gives his advice to parents of children starting school in September – “Dress up as a small child and sneak into your kids’ classroom to spy on the teacher”. While it’s not clear how this approach will do anything other than embarrass the children, it gives us an insight into his approach to parenting. When asked what being a parent means, Dom replied “It forces me to grow up more than I’d like”.


TV Medic Dr. Ranj Singh is co-creator and presenter of the pioneering

CBeebies show Get Well Soon and also has a kids’ health segment

on ITV’s This Morning. He is the author of two Oxford Treetops In Fact

books for school children – Food Fuel and Skelebones – and has this to say:


Education is hugely important and a wonderful privilege. However, alongside that we need to support children in terms of their emotional well-being and resilience.

Teaching children that it’s OK to talk about how they’re feeling, or when they’re experiencing trouble, is just as important as getting them to achieve.”


Emma Williams, Executive Director PTA UK said:

“I am delighted to be running our Welcome Packs initiative again this year. Starting school can be an exciting and nerve-wracking time for children and parents alike. I want parents to know that PTA UK is there to support them through the journey. By being involved in their school and education, mums, dads and carers can make a real and positive difference to how well their child does at school. The Welcome Packs are part of a bigger ‘Be School Ready’ campaign that we are launching this year which provides a wealth of resources to help parents play an active role and start school life with confidence.”


The PTA is a perfect way for a parent to engage with their child’s education. John Hattie from Visible Learning said:“The effect of parental engagement over a student’s school career is the equivalent of adding an extra two to three years to that student’s education.”

Media information

Celebrity interviews and food recipes from Nadiya Hussain and Kimberly Wyatt alongside images are available on request.

For all media enquiries please contact Siobhan Connor at Connor PR

Tel: 07966 177025

Full interviews and images are available on request.

Emma Williams, Executive Director PTA UK and mother of four is available for interview. Emma has a child starting reception in September.

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About PTA UK

Be School Ready is PTA UK’s 2016 flagship campaign. The Welcome Packs form part of the annual initiative that started in 2015 and was created to introduce parents to their PTA support network when their children are starting school. The Be School Ready packs were sent to 1,667 member associations, reaching over 100,000 parents, across England and Wales.

Established in 1956, PTA UK is the UK’s leading PTA membership organisation. As a charity, PTA UK’s main objective is to advance education by encouraging the fullest cooperation between home and school.