School forcing KS1 children to have school dinners

(69 Posts)
gemgemninknonk Tue 08-Jul-14 18:40:24

From September my children's school is making it compulsory for all KS1 children to have the free school dinners.
I am unhappy about this for several reasons but mainly because it is my choice as to what my children should eat.
I provide them with a healthy and balanced packed lunch and they do on occasion have school dinners but again this is my choice.

I have been wondering if the school can actually do this legally and to perhaps take things further but I don't want to start a rebellion without being armed with as much information as possible.

Any advice on how to handle this would be much appreciated.

tobysmum77 Thu 10-Jul-14 09:26:17

the school dinners at dd's school are reasonable I think but what makes me laugh is she always compliments dinners at home loudly!

I don't think there's anything wrong with kids having two proper meals, but then I don't give cake out afterwards.

In terms of the puddings when I ask dd she usually said she had fruit instead. She isn't a health freak so I suspect they aren't that nice wink .

apermanentheadache Wed 09-Jul-14 22:09:37

flannelwash, what vacillating says is probably correct. Pupil premium is quite a lot of money, and encouraging you to register is to do with making sure that pupils who should attract the money do so.

PeanutButterOnly Wed 09-Jul-14 20:36:44

I would love my ds(4) to have the free school dinners. I have elder DS who loves them, has them every day and I've paid out for every one. Next year he'll be yr6. Younger DS had an utter melt down about the idea of having the dinners when we got the letter today and said he would refuse to go to school if he couldn't have packed lunch. He has food issues and only eats a limited number of things. It is getting better but only when he chooses to try something new for himself. So I will have to continue with the packed lunches. He's only turning 5 in Aug and I just can't risk upsetting the year 1 transition sad I don't think schools or the government have thought through the ramifications to families. I'm worried DS self esteem around eating will be even worse if he really can't eat the dinners that the majority are having for free.

Vacillating Wed 09-Jul-14 20:16:26

They could mean that without registering some pupils might not be correctly allocated as those who attract pupil premium funding. Our school will only claim those eating though I don't think there will be huge overspend if all are claimed for. Some days the food runs out other days there are spare puddings dished out as seconds...

mrz Wed 09-Jul-14 18:34:03

The cook will only provide meals for the number of children who are marked in the dinner register requiring school dinners each day

Pico2 Wed 09-Jul-14 18:31:07

I assume that they will claim for those children too. Then they can use the extra money to make better meals for those having them (or possibly something else).

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 09-Jul-14 18:26:23

But won't that mean they cater for too many?

flannelwash Wed 09-Jul-14 18:23:37

"...even if you would prefer your child not to have a free school meal and will instead be providing them with a packed lunch, we strongly recommend that you still register as this will be advantageous to the school. It is my hope to encourage parents and carers of all children in reception, years one and two to register. if you do not have access to a computer, we will make school facilities available; just let us know. "

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 09-Jul-14 17:56:41

Can't read that on iPhone smile summary?

flannelwash Wed 09-Jul-14 17:54:59

Not trying to derail but this is what my dcs school said on the matter, something tells me its more about funding than healthy kids.

ElephantsNeverForgive - good blood sugar levels don't come from eating sugar! If anything is likely to make a child grumpy, it is eating nothing sensible all day and then having an ice cream! Sugar high, sugar crash. If my dc said they hadn't eaten anything all day, an ice cream would not be what I gave them.

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 15:47:29

Quite simply all this focus on food and healthy eating can and does backfire.

Look at the number of teens in the sweet shop or having bacon butties at break and skipping lunch.

Poor food choices are an incredibly easy way getting a quick rebellion fix and they don't land you in detention like rolling up your skirt.

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 15:42:02

But the real problem is, the more you try and force DCs to eat food they don't like and don't have any say over in school the worse they are when they get home.

It's a massively hard hearted parent who refuses their DD an ice cream on the way home knowing their lunch most likely went in the bin.

And the bin is where DD2 would have gone, she is that stubborn and that capable of not eating all day. Something you do not want to encourage.

We had exactly this with water and carrot sticks at nursery, DC were starving and demanding snacks on the way home.

Children actually need some blood sugar or they get grumpy!

ILoveCoreyHaim Wed 09-Jul-14 13:44:36

Our old head done this. She said if the children did not want a school meal thy could be collected from the gate. We had a dinner lady who made meals from scratch. Peach and custard crumble and home cooked mes. All the school were on dinners unless the head allowed packed lunch for a good reason. Head left and dinner lady retired. New head brought her dinner lady who made the council lunches. My kids said they were disgusting and reverted to packed lunch which the new head allowed. Have another new dinner lady and the kids say dinners are ok. They go dinner some days, packed lunch the other days.

I wish we still had the old dinner lady as i hate making packed lunches

MilkyChopsKid Wed 09-Jul-14 13:37:42

I have three concerns about this:

1. The quality and quantity of meat my DCs will eat. After the horsemeat scandle I'm not happy what the meat is - there will be lots of firms rubbing their hands in glee at the dodgy (unfit for human consumption) meat they can slip into the supply chain. I think children will eat more meat (in two hot meals rather than one as packed lunches are mostly veggie). The extra demand for meat means it is more likely for dodgy meat to be put in the school meals.

2. My DCs eat obvious chopped veg in their meals, school meals probably will have unidentifiable pepper, courgette, carrot, sweetcorn (chopped in a food processor) so that will gradually be the end of them eating veg at home. I find they only eat things they have frequently and can identify.

3. I eat with my children and would like to continue to do so, a hot meal in the early evening is best for me as I want to get on and do things during the day.

I'm not concerned if school meals are nutritionally better, my packed lunches are not awful and I know what is being eaten.

My DCs' school cannot provide meals in Sept, I'm not sure if they will be compulsory when they can. Hopefully not!

Well said. As an aside, I've just found out that at the teeny primary school that my dc will probably be attending in September (we are re-locating to quite a rural area) the children all have packed lunches Mon-Thurs (the school has no catering facilities) but on Fridays the village pub provides and delivers lunch for all of the (41!) children if they want it. They can order what they like each week. Sounds like a nice compromise!

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 09-Jul-14 12:57:26

The worse thing is that everyone's falling for it. It's control and treating people like idiots, and avoiding solving the actual problem disguised as free food.

And everyone's sat there like puppies wagging tails and waiting for their treats.

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 09-Jul-14 12:55:08

Id be surprised if the reason behind parents getting away with being shitty parents isn't because they know full well that everyone's so afraid of offending others that they will jut make it a school rule rather than deal with the actual problem.

How many blanket polices are there gonna be To the detriment of every other normal person capable of deciding what to feed their child and do this sensibly?

It's ridiculous.

I agree, Giles. But children should not be forced to have school dinners. Neither should schools be banning perfectly ordinary food items. Certainly if a child is routinely sent in with a can of Red Bull, a pork pie and a Mars Bar for lunch, the school would need to maybe have a chat with the parents, but banning pudding-type items and then serving them in the school lunches is preposterous.

It would be great if the school lunches really were nice, but I imagine it's pretty hard to mass cater on a small budget for kids, who are often fussy or very limited in what they like.

Gileswithachainsaw Wed 09-Jul-14 12:33:41

I'd much rather, a small portion of a cake containing sugar/fat that actually tastes nice than have a sugar and fat free version every day that's massive

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 12:27:24

DD2 simply wouldn't eat and I'd let the school have the joy of teaching her all afternoon.

Oops, I'm sure there were paragraphs in that rant when I clicked 'post'!

No, PastSellByDate, what I object to is them effectively lying about their food. I entirely agree that there is nothing wrong with the odd flapjack. I make them myself too. They would be horrible without any sugar, syrup or honey in them. I'm not interested in calorie counts and so on - my kids are slim, very active and need plenty of food.
What I think it is outrageous however is to ban things from packed lunches and then give equally 'bad' things every single day in the school dinners. It just proves that the policies have very little to do with concerns about the children's diet. They are effectively saying 'You bad mummy for giving your child a (tiny) evil sugary chocolate cookie in her packed lunch! She should be having our (enormous) lovely, healthy sugar-free flapjack instead <hiding tin of golden syrup behind back>'. It's controlling, hypocritical bollocks.

Vacillating Wed 09-Jul-14 11:35:26

Great if your school has lovely lunches, mine doesn't and isn't going to. Lobbying will make no difference as there are fundamental limitations in the school's resources and they are happy with current provision.

I wouldn't eat them, my children don't wasn't to and them being free doesn't make them more attractive to any of us. I don't have to buy in to a culture of shit food for children on any level.

PastSellByDate Wed 09-Jul-14 10:40:04


Ye average flapjack ( is about 135 calories.

Recommended caloric intake (KCAL per day) children 4 - 6 years of age is

1715 calories for boys

1545 calories for girls


ye olde flapjack would equal 8% of a boys daily caloric intake/ 9% of a girls daily caloric intake.

Now portion control on the part of the school may mean that they're actually getting even less.

However - the reality is most children are very active - playing, moving about, never sitting still - and their bodies can cope with a bit of sugar.

As a parent - if you object to sugars (not just the granulated variety) you can request that they are on a low sugar diet (excluding processed sugars) and offered fruit or yogurt instead of a 'stodgy pudding'.

Like anything it's all about balance - and unfortunately around here you see Y6 boys fueling up on crisps and soda on the walk into school and greeted with a bar of chocolate by the parents at the end of the school day (knowing they're going home to polish off 3 -4 packets of crisps). And that really is too large a portion of 'processed/ fatty' foods in your diet - child or adult.

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