Monday, February 25, 2008

Nanny Knows Best

A reader emails...


Is it me? My 10 year old daughter goes to xxxx Primary School in xxxxx, West Sussex, and has taken a balanced lunch box to school since she was 4 years old - she tends to have a chicken sandwich, yoghurt, baked (low fat) crisps, apple or banana and a chocolate bar (usually a Penguin). I now read on the school newsletter, "I am writing to remind you that we do NOT permit sweets or chocolate bars in your children's lunch boxes."

My daughter is a fit child who is absolutely the correct weight for her height. What the hell gives the school the right to demand what goes in our child's lunch box?

Of course, they ripped the kitchens out of this school years ago.

If I were that parent I'd be furious. If the school cannot provide lunch for its pupils it certainly has no place to dictate what parents give their children to eat in the packed lunches. The culture of the Nanny State in our schools is very much alive and kicking.


Dave Cole said...

Does the same criticism not apply to Mr Davis' call for an end to cut-price booze?

Iain Dale said...

Encouraging supermarkets to act in a particular way is rather different from a person in authority banning something completely harmless. Wouldn't you say?

DiscoveredJoys said...

When this happened at our lads' secondary school we ignored 'the rule'.

Do I feel guilty at setting a bad example? Nope. I feel I set a good example about where to draw the line between private activities and public intrusion.

I would have been prepared to cause a fuss asking for proof of the school's authority if my lads had been 'caught'.

It is probably sad that so many people, including me, evade the more ridiculous laws (although I do for instance pay my taxes and observe the speed limit). However if you want people to be law abiding you have to set sensible laws.

Anonymous said...

It's no good sighing, Iain, and making shrugging comments about the nanny state. This what I hate about the English. They are so passive.

The lady who wrote to you should write to the headmistress/head master (if there is such a thing in the lefty collective of English education) and say she is taking this impertinence up with the school board, the local council and her MP. She should call other parents and get them to email the school with similar threats to take this issue public.

That's what Americans do, and by God, they get results. Officials in the US are scared to death of the voters.

If your correspondent is reading this, try to get some other parents on your side and indicate to the headmistress that you are dissatisfied with her performance and would like to see her reviewed.

If she doesn't respond immediately, write again the next day and ask for an explanation for the delay. Ask for her qualifications as a nutritionist and where she took her course. Wrong foot her.

Trust me, after she gets the American treatment, she won't mind if you put miniature whiskies in your daughter's lunch box.

But you need the other parents to cooperate. If they won't, write a letter to your local paper naming the teacherand call your MP.

Do not take this gross trespass on your responsibility as a parent lying down.

Anonymous said...

The school has every right to decide what goes into the child’s lunchbox, just as it has every right to decide what the child wears at school, what it is taught, and how it should behave. Parents should remember that they are not the ones who are paying the school fees: we all are. And we all have an interest in how that child is brought up. I am sure the school will have good reasons for its rule. Maybe some children turn up at school with ten Mars bars and others with none, and fights and tears are the result. Schools should be allowed to get on with what they are doing without interference from central government – but also without interference from pushy parents who think they know best.

Anonymous said...

Iain - Unless the headmistress has evidence that the child is sickly and it is due to her diet, she has no right to try to wrest authority on what to feed her child away from the mother.

David Anthony said...

The culture of the Nanny State in our schools is very much alive and kicking.

Quite apt really.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

A debate we had together on 18DS I believe.

Point 1 - there is no such think as "bad food". Chocolate is not bad - biut if you eat a diet comprised of chocolate alone it is bad.

If I were a parent and made up their lunch I would pretty quickly be calling all the school governors to determine what right they had to determine what I fed my child.

I think the school should be named and shamed.

Anonymous said...

I can sort of see the logic to this, though it's not explained terribly well.

Lots of simple carbohydrate (particularly fructose), can have a detrimental effect on concentration through the peaks and troughs of blood sugar level - other things in some sweeties can also make the little blighters, what shall we say, a handful!

Though, the Local Authority may just have gone bonkers.

Anonymous said...

This is a choice for individual schools, but it happens all over the place. A friend of mine has taught in several London primary schools where this is the case. It's borne out of headteachers with not enough to do, trying to be right-on and being seen to be doing something.

Anonymous said...

eh Iain that doesn't make sense, you're saying chocolate and sweets are COMPLETELY harmless, what about in huge quantities? Some alcoholic drinks in moderation can actually have health benefits.

As for the cheap booze at supermarkets thing I'm not sure what it's aim is. Kids DO NOT buy booze from Tesco or Asda - they are as strict as hell when it comes to selling booze and asking for ID.

Kids are getting it from dodgy corner shops and off licences, why should I as a responsible adult have to pay over the odds for a few beers just because a minority are drinking and behaving like thugs?

Also, back to the original point, Jamie Oliver needs a slap, I blame him.

Anonymous said...

I think you should name the school Iain. We need to know exactly where this sort of idiocy is happening. The Head should be exposed for being another example of the National Socialists that pervade the teaching "profession".

John M Ward said...

This scrapping of school kitchens is a real shame. I was saddened to find out yesterday (from a former ward Councillor for my old home area who came to one of our Association social events) that my old Infant/Junior school lost its kitchen several years ago. I thought something looked a bit different there in Google Earth...

I agree that it is up to parents to make the choice about what to put in the youngsters' lunch boxes.

Oh, and although I rarely eat anything sweet myself, I am aware that chocolate is official military rations, so can't be that bad!

Johnny Norfolk said...

I would make an apointment to see the head.Tell him/her what you think and ask them to justify it.

Refuse to comply and go over their heads if you have to. They are there to serve us not the other way round.

Anonymous said...

Parents and teachers should work in partnership. Bossy letters are completely inappropriate. Would they write in that way if it was a private, fee-paying school? I very much doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Dear School

Until you have carried my child for 9 months within your torso making a mess. Of your internal organs I shall take your advice.

Until then could I respectfully say awa an raffle yer onions.

Anonymous said...

"Ealth and Safety"

The same goons who asked me to restrain my toddler in the shopping trolley seat, whilst in my local branch of ASDA....if I had been an 18-stone tattooed chav, they would have said nothing!

The solution is simple: ignore the rule and if they want to take it further, ask them to explain under what legislation they are empowered to do so, upon what scientific and medical advice they are making the decision, and write to the chocolate bar manufacturer (copied to the school and the local press) with the suggestion that legal action to defend the brand name may be appropriate!

Anonymous said...

The end of the Happy Meal is nigh as the gov puts its focus on it.

Anonymous said...

Typical State behaviour, for years they pumped the worst forms of food, the absolute cheapest starchy foods, and cheapest cuts of meat to children as school dinners. Turkey twizzlers of course are legendary but i remember the spam fritters and the faggots.
After years of doing this, they have a damascus like conversion, and like the smoker turn anti-smoker they are so obsessed they over compensate.

Mechanically removed cuts of meat and spinal cord one minute, health nazis the next.

Anonymous said...

Would it be OK to add a Turkey Twizzler to the girl's lunchbox?

M. Hristov said...

With the advent of St. Jamie Oliver, primary schools decided to provide lots of salads and healthy options. Chip shop owners everywhere must have seen a exponential rise in their profits.

This headmistress is probably trying wrestle a little control back from the children she teaches before they report all her male staff for imaginary crimes and get them all suspended. Male primary school teachers are being “warned off” a career in teaching because of this phenomenon.

Isn’t it reassuring to know that children in the past were so much better behaved and grew up to be polite and respectful of their fellows. They would never dream of referring to their fellow blog contributors as “jerks”, would they Verity? Or should that be Fraulein Verity.

Anonymous said...

Daniel writes: "Lots of simple carbohydrate (particularly fructose), can have a detrimental effect on concentration through the peaks and troughs of blood sugar level - other things in some sweeties can also make the little blighters, what shall we say, a handful!"

Daniel, like so many English, you miss the point and concentrate on tiny points that have no relevance. Grasp the big picture, which is state control of children.

It needs to be pointed out to this bossy headmistress that she has exceeded her authority and intruded into the parents' authority and needs to be shooed off.

bj - No. It is not a choice of individual schools. It is a choice of individual parents.

A headmistress can certainly send a note home with a child saying so much sugar is making the child hyperactive and causing him/her dificulties in learning - and asking the mother to modify it.

But to get up on her hind legs and dictate what responsible people in their own kitchens put into their own children's lunchboxes is way, way off the mark. This overreaching woman needs to be reined in.

Charlie Root, you too are missing the point. You are arguing about angels dancing on the head of a pin. The issue is the impertinence and drive to control of this socialist headmistress.

Wot Cath wrote.

Anonymous said...

Copy of the letter to the Daily Mail, asap.

Let's see the little socialist bully stand up to national examination

Anonymous said...

Jess The Dog has got it! (Except, not "ignore the rule", because that will only embarrass the child.)

But otherwise, Jess is right. Ask for the references to the legislation that allows the headmistress to dictate what women (or men) in their own kitchens put in their children's lunch boxes.

Certainly, a head teacher who notes that a child is suffering from malnutrition is right to address the issue, but this dictate is one more step in the agenda to nationalise children.

I congratulate this lady for contacting such a civilised, sane, rightist blog as Iain's. She should also contact her MP and say so in a letter written to her local paper, preferably signed by several, if not many, parents.

This lady is so disturbed at the insult to her authority as a loving mother that she wrote to a blog, for God's sake! Letter to school board; letter to MP; letter to local newspaper, preferably signed by several parents. Everything copied to other parties.

You've got to cut these people off at the knees.

Anonymous said...

next they will demand kids turn up at a certain time and have breaks at a prescribed time. Nect beastly school will have them plugging into Shakespeare when the want to wacth the Simpsons........

Iain its a biscuit --- we have a bit of an obesity crisis if children develop good eating habits as well as learning well done the teachers for trying!!!

now where is my biscuits beer and simpsons -- if only my teachers had been stricter :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear god, an institution dedicated to the welfare, guidance and preparation of our young for life *dares* to make a sensible decision on behalf of those it serves?

All those poor irresponsible parents must be so unhappy.

My personal outrage is that the English have gotten so lax in discipline and accountability as adults that this scenario becomes more and more familiar - be it about diet or behaviour.

Anonymous said...

Elected police chiefs. Elected sheriffs. Elected school boards. Democracy at its freest and breeziest.

You can't get national agendas nailed into place when local residents vote "no". The American system is superb.

Anonymous said...

Raging against the machine is what we have been reduced to by successive political parties. Let's all take soma and be happy in apathy instead......

Ted Foan said...

dozzy (10.37pm)said...
"The school has every right to decide what goes into the child’s lunchbox, just as it has every right to decide what the child wears at school, what it is taught, and how it should behave. Parents should remember that they are not the ones who are paying the school fees: we all are..."

What the chuff are you talking about? The school has no such "right" to tell parents what to feed their children. This school has been told by central government via its LEA what rules to impose on parents and children about their diet but that doesn't make it right. Did they consult with parents before making this ruling? Apparently not.

I am a parent and I always make sure that my child has some sugar-based food in his lunch. He uses a tremendous amount of energy at play times and he needs that boost to keep him alert in the afternoon classes. I might add that he is as thin as a lathe and is a very active and accomplished sportsman as well as achieving SATs scores that are three years ahead of this brilliant government's targets for his age group.

Dozzy, the nanny state doesn't know everything and you certainly have a lot to learn.

AZ said...

dozzy said...

The school has every right to decide what goes into the child’s lunchbox, just as it has every right to decide what the child wears at school, what it is taught, and how it should behave.

Are you being sarcastic? If not, you are one poor benighted fool. No, actually the "school" (=Gordon Brown and friends) doesn't have the right to decide any of this. The parents actually have the right to decide what the child ("it" as you put it) learns. That's why I send my child to a private school with my wife on the parents' association. But even the ones who can't afford 20k/year deserve to have some input into their children's upbringing. I'm not sure in any case what the problem with chocolate is in particular. I used to ski pretty hard and always had a few chocolate bars in the pockets. Not uncommon amongst the athletic I would imagine.

Anonymous said...

I think it's right for schools to get tough with kids and their parents about what they eat while at school. The eating habits of British children are a national disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Verity, you're right, it should be a choice for individual parents.

What I was saying was that it was headteachers, rather than local councils or the government, who make policy decisions like this one.

Anonymous said...

@ Dozzy: February 25, 2008 10:37 PM

'The school has every right to decide what goes into the child’s lunchbox, just as it has every right to decide what the child wears at school, what it is taught, and how it should behave. Parents should remember that they are not the ones who are paying the school fees: we all are'

From what the original writer said, we are clearly no longer paying the school to provide a proper meal and until that is reversed, I think that we will say what our children can eat, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Iain did you see the Michael Crick stroy ? Can you give it some more oxygen as those who expose selected others scnadals should have to face the piper shouldnt they?

Anonymous said...

The British State has been telling the British people what and when it may eat and drink, who it may marry or not, what to believe about God, religion, the Royal Family and the State for at least a thousand years.

And yet Iain is vexed by school lunch box rules.

Quite incredible.

Anonymous said...

My daughter attends a primary school with exactly the same rule.

It has nothing to do with diet or Nanny or whatever politically correct shadow we're jumping at this week. Rather, it has everything to do with stopping small children squabbling over sweets and chocolate in the school canteen.

It's a discipline issue nothing more.

Anonymous said...

Children and sugar don't mix - especially at school. I think this is a reasonable request.

Newmania said...

Verity as always cuts to the heart of the matter this is yet another small attack on the family in this case the right of the parent to decide what their children should eat for their school lunch. Verity is also right to identify the very lair of the lefty beast as the educational establishment where a determined attempt to hamper trivial little things like learning to read runs along side a fabulously vacuous projects to inculcate fashionable green and Liberal credos.

What does Brown want ? He wants a computer system so vast , a data log so compendious that he will achieve a direct relationship between the state and the individual smashing every intermediate structure , the church , the state and above all that thing so toxic to him , the family .Then we will have only one daddy and one mummy and he will be that foully masticating malodorous supreme leader Gordon Brown and we shall be his compliant children.

Eat a penguin start the revolution.!!

Interesting point about local democracy as well .Does anyone doubt that if we had elected police chiefs there would be more policemen and fewer traffic cameras ?

Anonymous said...

Similar tale...

My wife took our 5 year old into school one morning recently and was "spoken to" by his teacher because she had had the temerity to include a chocolate digestive in his lunch box the previous day.

The same teacher (15 years our junior incidentally and no kids of her own natch) hadn't managed to hear our son read for two weeks because she "hasn't had the time" (not an isolated event either). Only 15 kids in the class too, how does she cope, what with lunch box inspection duties & all?

So we've now secured a place (after Easter) at a local independent school where staff issue biscuits & milk at break time to "keep the childrens blood sugar up as it helps them concentrate".

Still, I suppose it's not really the teachers fault, she was "only following orders"...

Teachers ordered to 'police children's lunchboxes'

Anonymous said...

Some 25yrs ago, my daughter's primary school insisted on every child learning to write with a fountain pen - anyone remember those ink cartridges? For some reason, they always exploded in my child's pen, making a huge mess everywhere, although she was an otherwise neat and clever little thing.

A la Verity, I went to the headmistress and explained the problem, asking if my daughter could use a biro or fibre-tip.

"No, she must learn to use a fountain pen."


"Because everyone should know how to use one."

"When did you last use a fountain pen, Headmistress?"


The use of fountain pens was quietly dropped.

strapworld said...

Verity said:-It's no good sighing, Iain, and making shrugging comments about the nanny state. This what I hate about the English. They are so passive.

That is why we are walking into the european socialist superstate. So we had better get used to such dictates as this.

On this particular subject I agree with Verity. Shout. Shout and Shout again they will backdown.

Anonymous said...

back in the 80s Verity I challenged my daughter's schools twice.

Once because she brought home a reading book which used the most appalling grammar -the Headmaster said no one had complained before and I told him that I was and would not have the book in my house - it was withdrawn.

The second time my daughter - who had already had German Measles - requested that she waited until 16 for the 'voluntary' rubella injection and have it from our GP. I was visited by a nurse who demanded that I make her have it and when I refused told me I was selfish and stupid because someone else's child might get pregnant!
I asked why I was responsible for an illegal act concerning someone else's child especially as mine had already suffered with rubella and just received a lecture.

Unfortunately I lost that one because my daughter (and who publicised it?)was made to feel a pariah and in the end said she would have it - for her sake I weakly gave in.

asquith said...

My attitude towards this is basically the same as binge drinking. The true solution to the problem is to encourage children and parents to have a healthy diet, not to repress food items which are harmless if eaten in moderation.

Simply banning x, y and z won't do anything if children don't have a good diet at home. And how are you going to bring that about? The same way as you encourage responsible drinking, by the power of persuasion.

And by encouraging outdoor play. Fairly obvious really.

Apart from the fact that bad laws are wrong in themselves, they do untold damage to society by encouraging people to disrespect the law and disregard good laws. My humble opinion is that there should be less legislation, better enforced.

Anonymous said...

Lovely, one person putting a penguin in a lunchbox is no bad thing, especially if it is part of a balanced diet.

People buying a multipack of crisps and a multipack of chocolate bars at the beginning of the week to sort out the entire contents of their kids lunchbox is a bad thing and it does happen.

It takes only one child to be full of chocolate and E numbers to have a detrimental impact on the education of thirty plus other children.

Maybe if the schools held back the 'interesting' foods for just before home time and parents could pick up the kids full of beans.

Anonymous said...

The number of people posting who seem happy for rules to arbitrarily be imposed on them and their children is shocking.

Are they unable or unwilling to take responsibility themselves for what happens to their family?

No doubt there are some weak minded souls among them who fall into this category, but I suspect that most are people who cannot resist interfering in the lives of others.

What makes this worse is that the latter generally have limited understanding of the issues on which they pontificate and are simply following the latest popular orthodoxy.

They are also frequently unregarded individuals who can only find self esteem by exercising their trivial control over others - even children.

In the circumstances, it is not surprising that so often such people are found in schools.

Anonymous said...

This happened at my daughter's school. So now at lunchtime they troop out en masse to the local shops and consume daily unhealthy quantities of greasy fish and chips.The local bakery also obliges with cut price cakes and biscuits which are close to their sell by date. Banning unhealthy items from the lunchbox is ok as long as you try to explain and educate the pupils as to why some foods are unsuitable.

Chris Paul said...

Yep, discovered joys 10:34pm is right. Ignore it. Our kids take whatever they want and are very healthy. My son has a school dinner on Fridays. That's "chip day". The school may have no kitchen as such but that does not mean it does not get a delivery of hot cupboards and vacuum flaks from a central kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Under whose direction was the school's kitchen ripped out?

Which party was in government, encouraging LAs to replace the school meals service with private contractors operating from central kitchens and using the cheapest ingredients (to maximise profits)?

And which party controls West Sussex County Council?

Anonymous said...

Quite aside from this argument about "healthy" or "not healthy", shouldn't the school have some say in limiting the factors by which they can come up against problems with unruly kids?

High sugar has clearly been shown to excite kids and make them harder to control, I'm not sure I agree at all with the idea of a control over what kids eat at school from their lunchbox (or if they go home for lunch) but I also don't think it's too improper for a school to try and give teachers the best chance of teaching kids without spending the whole lesson disciplining hyper-active sugar fiends ;)

Iain Dale said...

As someone who in the last few weeks has learned a lot about sugar content in foods, it is ridiculous to suggest as Lee Griffin does that a single Penguin is harmful. If it is eaten after a meal consisting of a range of other nutrients it is not damagaing at all to the child. It is only damaging if large amounts are eaten or as regular snacks without other food.

Anonymous said...

if I unnerstand the argument correctly:

crisps AND a penguin = runaway American supersized capitalism

No crisps and No penguin = European socialist joyless supernannystate

There is a third way :
crisps OR a penguin

Unsworth said...

There's a great deal of this nannying bollocks from schools these days.

Whilst I can understand that teachers may find it difficult to deal with some of the loonies placed in their care every school day, by what right do they dictate the contents of lunch boxes? This is about persuasion, not dictat.

Trouble is that these do-gooders are the first to evade their self-assumed responsibilities when things actually go wrong.

I'm a Governor of a Primary School and have served for many years and with three schools - two Primary and one Secondary. Believe me, this is just the thin edge of unremitting control freakery from central government downwards.

Even local NHS Trusts are now interfering in schools, with demands to weigh, measure and record the details of each child. No details as to who would have access to that information or how it was to be secured, of course. We told them to sod off, but they'll be back again.

Anonymous said...

Anon@9.42 - you are quite right, this mania for stripping out school kitchens started under the Conservatives; as I recall, being a School Governor at the time, Elf&Safety reasons were cited.

Did some stupid things happen under a Tory Govt - absolutely.

Do some stupid things happen under a Tory Council - absolutely.

Would I defend these stupidities to my dying breath - no, I would/and do fight like mad to get my Party to acknowledge their mistakes and put them right.

Anonymous said...

It is outrageous that schools behave like this. The current fad certainly originated with Jamie Oliver.

However, schools are on the receiving end of government/local authority commands/exhortations to do this sort of stuff. Also, it is very often parents, especially the parent governors, who are most determined that these measures be implemented.

Anonymous said...

Is there any irony in this being posted by a 40 something type 2 diabetic blogger?
Type 2 diabetes is increasing steeply with more and more younger people diagnosed.

On the other hand it is, at least partly, a disease of affluence and so should become less of a problem the longer Labour is in power.

Anonymous said...

Liverpool City Council announced yesterday that they wishes to ban "free gifts" being banned with Happy Meols, etc.
So what will the average Scouser with child do. Just drive down the road into Sefton or go through the tunnel into Wirral.
Now if Liverpool were a paragon of good administration, then fine. But its recently been cited as one of the worst run Councils in England (uts ran of course by the Fib Dems)

Anonymous said...

Iain, it's not exactly socially responsible to promote junk food for children. Is that the Tory way? :)

Anonymous said...

Verity is right about making a fuss. A letter to the paper, which in a local paper would be likely to be published really does get noticed.

I noticed that you deleted the name of the school Iain. Was that at the writer's insistence because it seems to me that naming & shaming here would also get noticed.

Bureaucracies are made up of individuals. Attacking a monolithic policy is using a bludgeon against the system. Naming the school would be using a rapier.

Dozzy you make a very good argument for why we should have some sort of voucher system & parents should be allowed to have some input as to whether their children should be educated or inspected.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous at 9.15

They are also frequently unregarded individuals who can only find self esteem by exercising their trivial control over others - even children.

In the circumstances, it is not surprising that so often such people are found in schools.

And in the police.

Anonymous said...

JP - Iain and most of the rest of the democratically-inclined here are incensed because this is the nub of the problem. Here is a private family decision of what food goes into their child's mouth being pre-emptied by a government which is not just over-mighty, but believes the citizenry is its servant and must obey it.

Socialism is a very dangerous perversion of the human will, and it is the human will that got us into cars and planes and got us to the moon. Not some controlling, angry inadequate control freaks.

Justin, if you could go back to the original post and read it carefully this time, you would have noted that there is no school canteen. Were there a canteen, it would be the privilege of the school to decide what is serves. But there isn't one. So your sniffy little solution doesn't apply, does it?

Disgruntled, I think we have a new opportunity developing within the parasitic public sector. Now, in addition to 'street football coordinators', and 'real nappy coordinators' the Guardian can run ads: Five positions open in Guilford for Lunchbox Monitors. Candidates should have an all round appreciation for lunch and a correct socialist hatred for anything that gives pleasure, like a single chocolate digestive biscuit. Your prime duties will be removing items from children's home-prepared lunch boxes and sending reprimanding notes to parents. Also writing a newsletter telling parents what they are forbidden to feed their belovedchildren. The LEA is a pan-cultural, pan-sexual, pan-racial equal opportunity employer. People switching careers from parking wardens are encouraged to apply.

Asquith - The point has sailed over your head. We are not discussing diet.

9:13 - No. If there are troublemakers in the class, the whole problem of behaviour should be discussed with the parents, including a reference to an over-dependency on junk food in lunch boxes. This does not involve telling responsible, loving mothers - the vast majority, in other words, who send their children off to school with a healthy packed lunch.

Iain, with regard to 11:00, how does it feel to be reduced to a medical condition rather than a journalist, publisher, politician, social commenter and the owner of the most popular political blog in Britain?

I hope the lady in question has contacted other parents and has contacted her MP and LEA and any stray councillors she can think of, plus, of course, written a letter to the local paper. She should not let this die until she triumphs. And she must be seen to triumph.

Anonymous said...

A sandwich ? a bag of crisps ?

Yeah right, this woman obviously knows what's good for her child.

The fact that she comes on this blog, instead of requesting a meeting with the headteacher is quite significant as well.

Funnily enough, parents were asked their opinions at my kid's primary school on whether the school should go lunch box only. I did protest. So did another parent. 2 of us, but the school will stay as it is.

I also attended a meeting recently at my child's primary school, regarding extended hours. This meeting was publicised for 3 months in advance.

There were 3 parents attending (there are 425 pupils).

I would be surprised if that headteacher had this woman's child in mind, but was maybe making a point for the noronic parents.

If you're not happy, get involved with the school. I am sure you will find they are far more receptive than you think.

Writing to a blog does not accomplish anything.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware I had said a "single bar" was dangerous Iain, way to misrepresent me ;)

From what I have read it takes between 40-80g of sugar to cause a child to become a little terror and so I do agree that a penguin bar really doesn't rank all that highly on the danger meter. The trouble is that cereal in the morning that teachers can't control (and I don't have a problem with this before the usual puerile response comes) will usually have high sugar content. The sandwiches they have are likely to be high GI and even juice drinks have a certain amount of sugar in them.

Teachers being able to say no to chocolate bars, and it is only ever workable to have a blanket rule on this, is only sensible in stopping a large percentage of sugar entering the blood streams of kids they want to stay attentive and calm. I'm not saying I necessarily agree with the policy being there but I can certainly understand its benefits even with the "healthiest" children with their "balanced" lunchbox dinners.

Anonymous said...

Lee Griffin - You must miss the Soviet Union so much. My condolences on your ongoing grief.

Anonymous said...

To parphrase a sign I saw recently while driving past a school in Bath

"There is a severe nut allergy in this school and under no circumstances must any nut based products ever be brought into these grounds"

What the f**k? I mean if one kid dies so the others can enjoy their snickers bar who I am as a parent to be denied my rights.

Anonymous said...

your correspondent reminds me how during the MMR scandal a mother was quoted on tv (regional, uneducated voice, call me a bigot for pointing that out I care not) saying:

"nobody knows better than me what should go in my child's body"

no dear - nobody CARES more than you do - there are plenty of people who KNOW better than you. Mother's who take their nutritional advice from the Daily Mail should pay a higher NI or the rest of us have to pay for their ignorance re children several times over.

Anonymous said...

This is a debate which (though I admit I have not read all of the contributions) has created more heat than light. To those who have criticised me – in some cases in mildly abusive language – for taking the side of the school, I would just like to say that none of us knows the facts of the case. We do not know the reasons for the school’s policy. It may have been to do with nutrition or obesity, or it may not. It may have been instituted on medical advice. There may have been particular circumstances in the school which led them to take this action. There may, for example, have been problems with jealousy between students; or thefts from lunch boxes; or students becoming upset about other children having more sweets than them; or there may have been a problem with students eating sweets in class. The policy may have been introduced after meetings with parents. (After all, the parent only became aware of the policy after reading about it in the newsletter, where it was referred to as already in operation – perhaps agreed earlier without this parent’s knowledge.) The policy may very likely have been introduced as a result of pressure from other parents. The governors are also likely to have been consulted.

So we do not know the facts. I don’t see any reason here for complaint about the nanny state. Because one parent was unaware of a school policy and disagrees with it, it does not follow that the policy has been dictated by the government. My view is that we should simply trust schools to make these sort of decisions for themselves. Schools have to make rules, and in a school there will be more experience of dealing with children, and dealing with a large number of children together, than any parent will ever have. Finally, schools are responsible to society as well as to parents, and parents should not always have the final say. There are parents who would have their children believe that the world goes round the sun, for example, or that gay people should be discriminated against. We, not the parents, pay for schools, and schools are ultimately providing a service for the children themselves and for the wider society. Why can’t we just let them get on with it, using their judgement and experience, instead of rushing to condemn them from a standpoint of ignorance?

Anonymous said...

Dozzy - What seems to have eluded your consciousness is, people are objecting to a teacher deciding what a mother, in her own kitchen, packs for her own child's lunch.

People are objecting to the thought fascism. People are objecting to a bossy socialist head teacher imposing her personal prejudices on an entire school and dozens of parents. Many people consider themselves better judges of their child's nutrition than a socialist, agenda-ridden head teacher.

The parents are objecting to the seepage of socialism into children's brains. Next it will be a note to parents telling them not to pack anything in their child's lunchbox that doesn't include a Fair Trade label. And/or not to include anything that diminishes the world's resources, in view of manmade global warming.

These are all areas that are not within the head teacher's remit and she should watch herself.

This mother should made a big issue of this. Small issues can be swept under the carpet. This mother needs to draw a line in the sand about what orders she'll take in her own home from a headmistress. That means publicity and getting others involved and writing a letter with several signatories to the local paper.

People like this have to be nipped in the bud because their drive to control is unlimited.

Anonymous said...

PS. I mean of course that there are parents who believe that the sun goes round the earth. Just as well we have teachers who can clarify these things.

Unknown said...

This appeared in a West Sussex Primary School Newsletter recently (Ashurst Wood). It may not be the school Iain's correspondent refers to. It sounds reasonable to me:


Please remember that our responsibility for children’s health means we have a rule disallowing sweets and chocolate from lunchboxes. One chocolate biscuit can be eaten but we are seeing whole bars being brought in recently. We have found pupils’ ability to behave properly and learn effectively is affected by the amount of sweet snacks and chemicals they consume at lunchtime.

Anonymous said...

The parent is responsible for the child's health, so I do not like dressing up this order as "caring". Other than taking care there isn't an overflow of sewage in the lavatories and breaking up fights and bullying, I don't know that the school is responsible for a child's health at all.

Even the way it is phrased is bossy. "...means we have a rule disallowing sweets and chocolate from lunchboxes." Other than how you disallow something "from" something (maybe the head teacher has been eating too many choccies and forgot her grammar?, this is just plain nasty. "Rule". "Disallowing".

If they sent a notice round saying something along the lines of: Because a high level of sugar in the blood of young children can cause hyperactivity in some causing the child to disrupt the learning of others, we would ask parents please not include chocolate in lunchboxes.

This is less bossy and appeals to reason and cooperation.

That headmistress deserves to be made an example of.

Anonymous said...

Verity, if the situation really is as you imagine it to be -- that there is one bossyboots who has invented this rule without good reason and without consultation, either because they are a little Hitler or because Gordon Brown has dictated it -- then I would agree with you. But we do not know that that is the case. From the letter which Iain quotes, there has clearly been a pre-existing rule which this parent did not know about. The next step, surely, is to find out more about that rule, for what reasons and how it was introduced, and then come to a judgement. I am against the nanny state as much as you are, but I am not convinced that we have an instance of it here, just because one parent was not aware of a rule obtaining at their child's school. And I think that parent power has to be kept in check. Parents are not the only ones with an interest in their child's education: we all have an interest in ensuring that there will be a well trained, hard working workforce in the future to look after us in our old age. That is why we all contribute to the cost of educating the nation's children, whether or not we have children ourselves. In Britain many parents are, how shall I put it, underprivileged (these tend in fact to be the ones with the most children), and many schools are fighting a losing battle trying to protect the children from the parents' ignorance and neglect. In some areas, brutish parents, well aware of their rights but ignorant of their responsibilities, come into the school and threaten physical violence against the teachers. If the children are being fed junk food at home, and maybe have behavioural problems as a result, then limiting or banning chocolate in the school might not be such a bad idea. But, as I say, we do not know the situation in this instance.

Anonymous said...

no you are just wierd Verity - no kids of your own but happy to tell other people how to bring up theirs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mystic Meg, [11:27] and among your other mistakes, do check the spelling of weird.

In addition to which, I censured lefty headmistress socialist boilerplate. I don't believe I offered a single word of advice to parents, because I am a capitalist, a freemarketeer and a libertarian and do not believe that I have the privilege of interfering in other families.

Anonymous said...

"Lee Griffin - You must miss the Soviet Union so much. My condolences on your ongoing grief."

How you people do provide so little time to actually think about what you're saying, it's very cute.

Misrepresent my views as much as you wish, you can't come on to a thread like this barking about personal choice and then ignore the right the school has to make choices of their own while they spend the majority of your child's waking early life actually looking after them and dealing with the effects of your choices.

I mean, you *can* because you frequently do only take an argument as far as the end of your nose before abandoning the logically extensions of it to suit your own argument, but you look like a fool for doing so.

Anonymous said...

Dozzy while I agree that more information would be useful, which is partly why I said Iain should name the school I cannot agree that schools should have "every right" to decide virtually everything & parents none. This is why vouchers restore consumer power to parents, which I thing is a good thing.

Genette thanks for that useful link. It may not be the same school, since that one refers specificly to biscuits being allowed or it may be that Iain's correspondent has been one sided.

Still I think schools should be able to handle the discipline problem of children "high" on sugar. Judge Dredd regularly arrests people for posession of sugar but that is a satire, or at least it used to be.

Anonymous said...

Verity, we know you have trouble with the English language but even you must know that there is no such word as 'freemarketeer'. The term is 'free-marketeer or 'free marketeer'.

Also, I don't think you understand the current meaning of 'boilerplate'.

Anonymous said...

verity, you proclaim yourself as a Libertarian.

A typical dictionary definition of Libertarian is "advocate of individual freedom: somebody who believes in the principle that people should have complete freedom of thought and action."

You should understand that 'people' means not just you but other people as well.

Anonymous said...

11:47 - Freemarketeer was a typo. I note that I am the first person in the history of this blog to commit a typo and agree to a month in a re-education camp.

"Boilerplate" is an American term and I use it in the American sense. You may share your countrymen's inclination to misunderstand American terminology, but use it anyway.

I agree with Neil Craig. The adults, soi-disant, running schools should be able to handle pupils made over-exuberant by too high an intake of sugar. They should not be trying to turn entire classes of children into passive drones because a lot of sugar has a negative effect on one or two children.

The Following Anonymous: "A typical dictionary definition of Libertarian is "advocate of individual freedom: somebody who believes in the principle that people should have complete freedom of thought and action."

Quite. Mothers have complete freedom in their own kitchens to prepare their children's lunches as they judge proper.

Anonymous said...

Verity said .... "Quite. Mothers have complete freedom in their own kitchens to prepare their children's lunches as they judge proper."

Likewise, people should be free to express their views without your sneering, interfering pontificating.

Anonymous said...

3:42 - Interfering? The lady wrote to Iain asking for help from commenters.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"Interfering? The lady wrote to Iain asking for help from commenters."

Try reading the post carefully for once. The lady was not asking for help from commenters. In any case I'm sure that you are the last person she would look to for help or advice.

Anonymous said...

Slightly incongrous coming onto the thread to criticise somebody's right to come onto the thread & criticise & no t even from the safety of total anoymity.

Anyway it seems the actual subject has been mined out.