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WIBU to make a complaint to the school?

(98 Posts)
ReindeerBollocks Wed 15-May-13 16:31:10

DS has been berated by pupils and a staff member for the 'fatty foods' in his lunchbox. Apparently the staff member did ask him just to have a word with me to make sure it was better tomorrow as she will be checking.

Now, I know the school has a healthy eating policy, it was mentioned to me when he started - however I have had several meetings with the school to discuss DS's complex medical needs AND his high fat diet which is necessary due to DS being medically malnourished. The Head personally assured me that his diet wouldn't be an issue for the school. Ever.

My child needs 3000 calories per day to maintain his abysmal weight. We squeeze in calories whenever we can - and he needs crisps & chocolates as part of his regime (yogurts just don't quite have the fat content we need!).

Thing is, the school know this - so shouldn't be monitoring his lunchbox at all. DS is quite bothered by the other children's attitudes towards his lunchbox, and their opinions of his diet - he doesn't want to be unhealthy. He is also concerned that he will be shouted at by the staff member tomorrow - or by other members of staff in the future.

I want to complain, however I just want the school to get it right. They made a cock up of something else last week (medical) and I know that another appearance at the school is going to make me 'that mother'. WIBU to complain about this, or just let it lie and hope that they remember why my boy is gorging on chocolate?

Twattybollocks Wed 15-May-13 16:34:09

No Yanbu, but from the schools point of view it must be difficult for other children who have healthy lunches to see all the sweets and treats in his. That said, if he needs it he needs it!

EldritchCleavage Wed 15-May-13 16:34:23

No, I think you have to mention it as this has the potential to be a recurrent thing that could upset him or make him anxious.

And I would print out and laminate a card to put in the lunch box with a brief clear statement about his diet. Any one busybodies him again, he can brandish it.

piprabbit Wed 15-May-13 16:34:43

I would complain. Surely they have various pupils with assorted medical requirements (nut allergies, asthma etc.) and they manage to meet their medical needs, why should your DS be any different?
Talk to the HT and make sure that she communicates with her staff properly in future.

Smartieaddict Wed 15-May-13 16:35:43

It certainly sounds like you need to talk to the school, it sounds like a communications breakdown with the lunchtime staff which needs to be addressed. You don't need to go in all guns blazing, but it does need sorting, as it's not fair on your DS if this keeps happening. You won't be one of "those" mums.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 15-May-13 16:37:34

No, please DO complain. That is completely unacceptable. Mostly it is unacceptable because you have already told the school about your DS's specific dietary requirements but it is also objectionable imo because making comments about what children have in their lunchboxes is very unpleasant indeed. There are so many more positive ways you can encourage families to provide a healthy balanced lunch and the lunch you have provided for your DS is healthy FOR HIM!

Fwiw I discussed ways to help children and their families make healthy lunches on here a few years ago. I also discussed it with my school council. Every single child said that teachers going around picking things out of lunchboxes was upsetting and embarrassing and "would make the children not want to come to school". Thanks to MN and the children we came up with some fantastic ideas which really helped. Let me know if you would like me to share them so you can take them into your son's school! Sounds like they need them!

Hope you get a sensible response and your son gets the apology he deserves.

Bue Wed 15-May-13 16:37:38

I would complain (OK not complain, remind) and Eldritch's idea about the laminated card is a good one.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 15-May-13 16:40:15

I agree about the laminated card too but really I don't think the school ought to be adopting this approach with young children anyway. It creates alot of anxiety around dinner time which many of them already find difficult.

BarbarianMum Wed 15-May-13 16:40:22


If the attitude of other children to your son's lunchbox is an issue then would you consider he or the school explaining it too them? I don't think a lot of detail would be necessary, just an 'ds needs a high calorie diet to keep him healthy because of X,Y,Z. That means that he needs to eat crisps and chocolate every day.'

A friend of mine did this because her son had CF. The other children were very accepting,although there was a slight tendency thereafter to consider him 'lucky' for having his condition which he found rather irritating.

HairyWorm Wed 15-May-13 16:41:02

Yes. Speak to school. The member of staff should be speaking directly to you if they have an issue and not via your DC.
It could be that the member if staff isn't aware of his medical needs but still not appropriate to raise the issue with him.

freddiefrog Wed 15-May-13 16:42:54

Yes, do go in and have words

I had issues with my eldest, and we had lots of input with child psychologists and dieticians over her diet and we had agreed, with the head of her school, what she needed and the best way of getting calories into her.

The first day, a piece of cheese was confiscated as it was on their banned list and it went down hill from there. One day we got a 'report card' home giving us 2 out of 10 after they'd analysed their lunch boxes in class.

I was not amused.

The head did sort it out though

DorisIsWaiting Wed 15-May-13 16:44:46

Hi Reindeer

I would be in the school like a shot.

DD has chocolate as her breaktime snack (instead of fruit) and the staff help her.

Trying to get the calories in is remarkably difficult (we now have maxijul in all drinks as we weren't winning). Because despite offering pizza, crisps and god knows what else dd2 isn't hungry and will use any excuse not to eat.

I would ask to meet with the lunchtime staff rather than ask the head to pass the message across, Are you able to get to the school when they are likely to be there. I think a meeting in person would be taken more seriously and you are better placed to educate them on your ds's needs (does he need any additional medication?).

WorraLiberty Wed 15-May-13 16:45:26

How old is he?

Could he not just have said, "I have to have a special diet"?

I can see why you're annoyed but it's not practical to expect every member of staff to remember everything about every child.

FJL203 Wed 15-May-13 16:45:43

I'd be complaining in writing to the head and cc-ing to the board of governors as well as speaking to the staff member in person and telling them to butt out. I see no reason to be moderate about it when it's a medical need and the school has already been made aware of it. Good grief, what if it was a nut allergy that the staff member decided to override your requirements on?

Personally I'm already fed up with this nanny state approach and want schools to teach not to tell me what I may or may not feed my child and situations like yours, OP, make me crosser still.

You should not feel guilty or feel like you would be viewed as "that parent" for safeguarding your son's health.

Pancakeflipper Wed 15-May-13 16:46:51


I have a very underweight child. He is also super active. He needs a diet that's different to the average weight child. Our GP and dietician have been really helpful.

And so have the school except for 1 nosey bloody dinner lady.

I am fed up with one mother who is a dinner lady making barbed comments to me at the school gates about what is in my child's lunch box. It's none her damned business. She is not qualified in any way to comment. He has a good balanced diet but just needs more fat.


I know your frustration OP.

ReindeerBollocks Wed 15-May-13 16:47:15

I love the idea of a laminated card. I will print them off tonight. Thank you.

I get why this is an issue for his friends, he gets to eat all the 'treats' whilst his friends have to snack on rice cakes or whatever, but trust me he'd rather be in their position, than deal with his condition.

He is very food conscious, and it bothers him that his friends would think this about him, he got every upset a couple of years ago when they had a healthy mind and body week at school - I just had to keep reminding him that this doesn't apply to him.

More than anything I'm annoyed that I'm having to approach them again - l'd have hoped after mentioning something last week (his intravenous access devices came out at school) they would be more careful with him!

BarbarianMum Wed 15-May-13 16:49:16

<<I can see why you're annoyed but it's not practical to expect every member of staff to remember everything about every child.>>

I think its not unreasonable for every member of staff supervising lunchtimes to have easy access to dietary information for every child who has a special diet. In fact, its good practice and very important when it comes to things like allergies.

BalloonSlayer Wed 15-May-13 16:50:10

Yes, complain.

It's hardly difficult in these circumstances for an email to have been sent to all lunch staff: "XX is on a special high-fat, high-calorie diet prescribed by a paediatrician due to a medical condition. He is aware of the school's Healthy Eating policy and is therefore understandably self-conscious about the food he has to eat. Please do not make negative comments on the contents of his lunch, and make efforts to ensure that fellow students also do not make any negative comments to him."

I'd want to know - why was an email like that not sent out?

If one was sent out - what are they going to do about a member of staff disregarding it?

SingingSands Wed 15-May-13 16:50:42

It enrages me that some school staff see fit to police the contents of children's lunch boxes. The laminated card is an excellent idea - not just for his lunch box but a couple of spares for the staff room and the kitchen staff wouldn't go amiss.

BlueberryHill Wed 15-May-13 16:51:52

I agree with most of the posters, go in, maybe from the angle that you are disappointed in having to remind the school about your son's needs as you felt that this had already been resolved. Remind them that this issue has been raised and his consultant has specified that he should have this diet (what with x years of medical school and y years of experience he should know what is best for his patient). You could ask if it would be helpful for you to talk to the lunchtime staff, I bet they say no at that point. I think that the laminated card is a great idea, if you already have one, a letter from the consultant that outlines his condition and what he needs.

Worra, I would have thought that one child with a high fat requirement due to medical needs would stand out enough for staff to remember him.

WorraLiberty Wed 15-May-13 16:52:40

It would depend on the size of the school really Barbarian

Staff do have to check lunchboxes and in a large school, it's not really practical to have to take a child's name and then go through a database of maybe 900+ children, to find out if they have a special diet.

It's easier to ask them why they have that food and for the child to reply "I have a special diet". Then the person can check if they want to.

ReindeerBollocks Wed 15-May-13 16:52:53

Worra his school have a very low intake of children with additional needs. They had no idea about his condition when he was admitted to the school so myself and DS's medical staff were invited in to discuss what would affect the school and teachers - this was one of those things, as well as his lunchtime meds.

The majority of staff members were there and the staff member that spoke to him today was present at that meeting.

He is very articulate but didn't say anything as it was a big discussion between his friends and this staff member about his lunchbox. He clammed up, and didn't want to argue with several people at once, who would all insist he was wrong.

Doris how is DD2? We have a PEG and overnight feeds, and we bolus about 500 calories a day. Difficult just about covers it! wink DS is never hungry and has a poor appetite even when well - he would quite happily not eat at all!

EldritchCleavage Wed 15-May-13 16:56:28

I have recently had 4 year old DS telling me bossily what is and is not healthy, based on what he is told at nursery.

Now, it isn't the nursery's fault that DS is (i) bossy; and (ii) seizing on healthy eating messages to manipulate me into giving him particular things, but my heart did sink.

The messages are so over-simplified as to be unhelpful, I don't actually agree with some of them anyway and I'M THE PARENT, THIS STUFF IS MY JOB.

Healthy eating education is a good idea badly executed and happily grabbed onto by the naturally authoritarian as a new stick to beat people with. Hence lunch staff making a little boy feel bad and wrong and self-conscious about his food in front of other people. Very poor.

ReindeerBollocks Wed 15-May-13 16:57:23

It's a junior school and has two classes per year from year 3-6.

I will have to check what they are doing regarding communicating with staff members about DS - the incident last week was also he to a breakdown in communication.

They are a fabulous school, Don't get me wrong. But I'm disappointed that this has happened again so soon.

BlueberryHill Wed 15-May-13 16:58:14

I think that is an awful position to put your son in, the staff member was fully aware of your son's condition and made it a talking point with other children. I would actually complain about that, ask the HT why this has happened and ask for assurances that this will not happen again.

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