Local Time

Friday, September 15, 2006

Parents feed pupils through gates

Pupils at a South Yorkshire school are being fed fish and chips through the gates by parents who say the canteen is not providing what their children want.

Students at Rawmarsh Comprehensive are not allowed out of the grounds at lunchtime, so some parents are taking their orders for the chip shop instead.

They say pupils are not being given enough time or choice for their meals.

But the school said it aimed to provide good quality food that helped pupils' to concentrate in the afternoons.

Julie Critchley is one of the parents who delivers pupils' orders from the grounds of a neighbouring cemetery in Rotherham while the school gates are locked.

"The children aren't eating what the school provide in the cafeteria because they don't like the quality of the food," she said.

"They prefer to come to us to have their food delivered fresh and hot, which is what they're asking for. We're giving them what they're asking for."

The move is being seen as a backlash against TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign for healthy school dinners.

But Ms Critchley insisted it was not just about promoting junk food as they had several orders for jacket potatoes and salad sandwiches alongside those for burgers and fish and chips.

She said their actions had been prompted by the school's new half hour meal breaks, as pupils did not have long enough to eat.

"They're like caged animals at the moment," she said. "By the time the children have queued to get their lunch they haven't time to eat it."

From this term, pupils have been given two half hour breaks instead of the previous 15 and 45 minutes.

Head teacher John Lambert said reorganising the school day and keeping pupils on site during breaks had already shown its benefits.

"Our motives are about effective education," he said. "Afternoon lateness has dropped to virtually zero and we know they are learning better in the afternoons."

He said he understood some pupils would resist the changes but believed that parents taking orders at the gates was undermining the school and their children's education.

"We aim to provide good quality food which is within government healthy eating guidelines and helps the children's learning in the afternoon," he said.

"The food that these parents are handing out is not part of a healthy eating diet and on top of that I have to question the morality of delivering it from the grounds of a cemetery.

"I just don't think it's helping their children and I don't think it's helping their children's school."

BBC

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