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Beyond a head teacher's remit?

(416 Posts)
margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 11:33:00

It is reported today that a six year old boy has been excluded from school because he took a packet of mini cheddars in his lunch box, which was against the school's healthy eating policy. Is this interference in a pupil's diet too draconian, or is it a good thing that the school should take charge of what children do or do not eat on the premises?

Aka Sat 01-Feb-14 11:40:41

Margaret I'd like to know your source for this report. I worked in and with Prmary schools for much of my career and this I find unbelievable.

Ana Sat 01-Feb-14 11:42:59

It seems to be in most of the newspapers, but I thought I'd better play safe...

thatbags Sat 01-Feb-14 11:48:31

Seems a bit daft, to put it mildly, to punish the child, whose fault it is not. The food police are getting a bit bonkers. Besides, it being school 'policy' doesn't mean everyone has to agree to it nor that it has to be enforced in such a ridiculously draconian way.

thatbags Sat 01-Feb-14 11:52:37

Does anyone know what, exactly, is the objection to Mini Cheddars? I just had a look at the list of ingredients. It didn't look all that bad. Maybe this story is really about something else and the child is being excluded for some other reason.

durhamjen Sat 01-Feb-14 11:58:27

As someone commented in the Guardian, if you want to take your kids on holiday in term time, give them MiniCheddars the week before in their packed lunch.

grannyactivist Sat 01-Feb-14 12:00:24

Schools in the UK are obliged to provide balanced meals and to support healthy eating guidelines. However, when a school starts policing the children's packed lunches, with exclusion as the punishment for 'unsuitable' contents, it has most definitely confused 'guidelines' with something akin to dictatorship. Exclusion from school is a draconian punishment and will be considerably more harmful to this child than the consumption of a packet of cheese biscuits.

margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 12:01:42

I did wonder if that is the whole story. I do know that a local primary school used to go through lunch boxes and confiscate anything not deemed "suitable". Juice was not considered suitable, only water. Then again my BF said one child used to bring just one slice of white bread spread with tomato sauce.
Don't know what is wrong with cheddars though, provided that isn' t all he had. Better a chat with Mum(s) about healthy eating.

margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 12:05:09

Great idea, durhamjen! I would bring a bag of cheddars to the school gate to give him at chucking out time

durhamjen Sat 01-Feb-14 12:07:02

30% fat content? Sounds quite high to me.

Ana Sat 01-Feb-14 12:08:18

According to the DM's report, which printed copies of the letters sent to parents when they introduced the 'healthy eating' policy, children whose packed lunches were deemed to be unsuitable would be given a school meal which the parents would be required to pay for. That doesn't have seemed to have happened in this case.

margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 12:08:26

Both sides being ridiculously stubborn, and the child is suffering as a result. But I think the school is in the wrong (DD2 was a dreadful eater, we were thankful for anything that passed her lips).

durhamjen Sat 01-Feb-14 12:25:01

Any governors on here like to comment?

annodomini Sat 01-Feb-14 12:35:05

Some time since I've been a governor but I feel sure that this is an over-reaction. I feel sure that our HT would not have confiscated the cheddars or excluded the child. If any measure had to be taken, it would have been an email, text or phone call to the parents reminding them about agreed guidelines on packed lunches.

margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 12:40:36

Oh dear, 30% fat content is what makes them tasty I suppose! But one school banned cheese because of the fat content I seem to recall. It may have been local again.
Bad for WW but surely godd for growing children? Or even good.

And isn't fruit JUICE between the parent, the child and the dentist? Surely none of the school's business if you want to give your child apple juice? And these are the people who threw turkey twizzlers down children's throats for years.

JessM Sat 01-Feb-14 12:42:13

Yes,as an ex-chair I would be jumping up and down and falling out with the head in a big way. School food policy on thin ice i'd say if it interferes with what parents choose to send in. Or in the case of secondary kids, what they pack themselves. Worst i saw was chocolate biscuits and nothing else. But worse still the parents that just gave their kids a fiver which they spend on sweets every morning on the way to school.

janerowena Sat 01-Feb-14 12:52:03

I would bring back school dinners if I had my way, I have seen packed lunches from both sides. As a working mother it is really hard to find time to prepare fresh appetising food first thing in the morning or last thing at night, you don't want anything to be spoiled or soggy. You want it to be something that won't end up in the bin.

But I was a classroom assistant for reception year children for a while and my goodness, what rubbish they were given. All carbs and processed food and sweet stuff. Cheese strings rather than real cheese. No salad to be seen. Every variety of corn-based crisps. In other words, usually the cheapest and easiest possible rather than the most nutritious, even for the well-off parents. I found it very sad. I had been sending mine off with chicken drumsticks, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cubes of cheese, potato salad, and lettuce and tomatoes and cucumber in their sandwiches, sometimes wraps with falafel. Cold good sausages. Okay I had to get up a bit earlier, but I never felt guilty about what I sent them off with unlike some of my friends.

Reading the article, it looks as if the school has just had enough and it has to send out a message that it won't put up with it. Otherwise all of the other parents could start to backslide. I find that after having read the article, I am on their side. Remembering the child who came with a packet of Quavers and a large bag of Haribos.

margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 12:57:30

Or older ones who go down the town to the chippy. We weren't allowed out at lunch-time (except if we went home for lunch with parets' permission.) We had to stay in and eat fatty meat & 2 veg, cheese and potato pie, pink iced tart and custard etc. Very healthy!

Personally I think it is beyond the school's remit and the HM is being a "jobsworth". But for the child's sake I think the parents should refrain from sending cheddars pro tem, and that this should be subject to further discussion at governor then County level if needs be. Without involving the child in any heated debate.

granjura Sat 01-Feb-14 13:11:09

As Anno says- the reaction is totally OTT. But I also wonder if we know the whole story. Perhaps the Head had already talked to the parents about this on a number of occasions?

Really mixed feelings here. On the one hand, it does seem dictatorial- but on the other hand, the UK is sitting on a health time bomb linked to poor food choices- to such an extent that the majority of the NHS budget will soon be spent solely on this- which is really scary. If schools have strict rules about uniform, jewellery wearing or make-up- which make absolutely NO difference to health or education per se- I'd say to insist on healthy foods for packed lunch makes more sense in so many ways. If such snacks (50% fat as said) are clearly not allowed, then allowing one child to do so on a regular basis just sets a precedent- which then goes on for each case to be looked at case by case (as in the holiday in school time thread)- which takes huge amounts of time for Senior staff, wiht appeals, etc. So set CLEAR rules and stick to them, no exceptions- and it is much much simpler for all, child and parents included.

As Anno says, if this was a first, without repetition- sending the child home was totally out of order. If parents had been warned regularly, then fine.

JessM Sat 01-Feb-14 13:11:44

You'd have had your kids excluded for those sausages these days janerowena

Ana Sat 01-Feb-14 13:16:15

This paragraph of the report seems to indicate that this wasn't a first 'offence'.

'The child's parents, Nicola Mardle and Tom Pearson, were told in a letter that he was being excluded for four days, while a permanent exclusion was considered. It said that a continued lack of parental support for school policy had "led to Riley being put in a situation where he is continuously breaking school rules regarding healthy eating".'

Mishap Sat 01-Feb-14 13:21:55

Blimey - Big Brother is alive and well!

margaretm74 Sat 01-Feb-14 13:24:54

Poor kid! Due to a standoff between parents and HT, the child is now labelled a "rule breaker" don't think I would want my child at a school like that anyway.

granjura Sat 01-Feb-14 13:29:07

What do you think about the comparison of uniform rules, make-up, jewellery, trainers, etc- as compared to healthy eating?

If one child is constantly breaking the rules (and I imagine it was with other items apart from mini cheddars on other previous days)- it causes all sorts of problems with the other children who will go home and nag -saying well Jonny brings crisps, mini cheddars, rolly pollies, whatever. It is all very easy to throw hands up in the air and talk about Big Brother- try and imagine how allowing one child to break the rules leads to problems with other children. You can't have a rule, be it about nail varnish, or short cropped tops, piercings, extreme hair dos, etc- and allow some children to repeatedly break the rule and get away with it- or it leads to others doing the same and pandemonium.

As said, I'd rather a school was stricter about healthy foods than some of the rules on others mentioned above, which do not have such a strong effect on personal health, but even more importantly, on the health of the nation and future health budget going mostly on food related problems.

granjura Sat 01-Feb-14 13:37:27

If the rules say 'no piercings' and the child comes to school with a piercing- what does the school do?

As an example, one of our 11 year olds came with a piercing after school hols (despite it being clearly forbidden in the school rules). The Head asked the child to remove the piercing (in her nose) and put it in a small plastic envelope and sent a note back to parents asking them not to send child to school with the piercing. Next day, child came in with piercing- Head asked child to remove and put in plastic bag and sent another note to parents. Same next day, but the Head asked parents to come and discuss this with her. Same again next day. Mum then came in shouting at the Head if front of children that he couldn't tell her child what to wear or not. She quietly told her that the school rules were clear, approved by Senior staff and Governors, and that yes, if the child was to attend said school, rules had to be adhered to. Mother shouted again and flounced, taking her child with her. Who was then kept at home by mum- who said child had to wear the piercing all the time or it would close up. Now, what is the Head, Governors, staff supposed to do?

They could change the rules- but if they discuss this and come to the conclusion it would NOT be in the interest of the majority of children, and they truly feel they are setting the rule for valid and strong reasons- should they change the rule to accommodate one set of parents? Who perhaps have shown disrespect about other school rules?