School putting child in isolation because parents haven't paid lunch fees

(190 Posts)
Bubbinsmakesthree Fri 29-Jul-16 13:21:14

Apologies for the DM link, and in case there's another thread on this (couldn't find one, but it's such a mumsnetty topic I can't believe no-one else has started one).

A school has threatened to put a child in isolation for their entire lunchbreak every day until the parents pay the £75 due for the term's school lunches (which are 1 week overdue).

Daily Mail article:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3713583/Superhead-claimed-Britain-s-education-broken-puts-pupils-detention-lunch-restricts-food-parents-failed-pay-school-meals.html

Link to a picture of the letter from the school:

twitter.com/RichardA/status/758941460741758982

WTF are the school playing at? In what possible circumstances is this OK?

AGruffaloCrumble Fri 29-Jul-16 13:26:56

Miss Birbalsingh added that the lunch isolation was part of half a day in isolation imposed because of poor behaviour the day before.
I would take it with a pinch of salt.

gamerchick Fri 29-Jul-16 13:28:08

I dunno I think as a parent it would shame me into paying so my kid didn't suffer. Not paying dinner money is a real problem for some schools. Why should they get a freebie?

What would you suggest that would be better?

BarbLives Fri 29-Jul-16 13:29:41

At least they are providing a lunch. I guess it's hard for the school as some parents won't pay up if there isn't a consequence.

NeedACleverNN Fri 29-Jul-16 13:29:48

That is a bit embarrassing for poor families and awful for children who are suffering abuse whose parents would delight in them being isolated

BarbLives Fri 29-Jul-16 13:31:47

Poor families would either get FSM or send packed lunches rather than have their children take school lunches they couldn't afford.

Agree that the school would have to be sure that the lack of lunch/lunch money wasn't because the child was being neglected or abused though.

springwaters Fri 29-Jul-16 13:32:26

If true the isolation is unfair but lots of schools offer a basic bread and butter sandwich and fruit to children whose parents who haven't paid for a meal or sent them with a packed lunch (not a 1 off who forgets but persistent offenders who owe school dinner money and don't send a lunch)

Bubbinsmakesthree Fri 29-Jul-16 13:36:06

"Miss Birbalsingh added that the lunch isolation was part of half a day in isolation imposed because of poor behaviour the day before." - I would take it with a pinch of salt

There's definitely some back story, including a poor relationship between parent and child - but the letter is unequivocal - pay up now or the kid is put in isolation.

Inkanta Fri 29-Jul-16 13:39:33

Dishing out punishment to child is a terrible! Why not just invoice the parents or send a reminder in the usual way a company or organisation would do?

Inkanta Fri 29-Jul-16 13:40:52

Isolation is a punishment. That's pretty bad. Maybe there's more to this story??

DixieNormas Fri 29-Jul-16 13:43:06

Children shouldn't be put in isolation because their parents havent paid for lunch.

All the schools mine have been to you pay in advance for the week, seems a better way of doing things

Applepie45 Fri 29-Jul-16 13:43:41

I saw this on Twitter earlier and wondered how long it would take before it appeared here!

It's worth having a read up on the school-several of the teachers blog about it. It's certainly an interesting place but very controversial in education circles on Twitter. It's definitely very "Marmite" in my experience. There was much talk earlier this year about their policy of issuing detentions for pupils who didn't have a pen.

I'm not sure how I feel about it really. I do think high standards and discipline is key to success in and for schools, but are some of their policies a little heavy handed? That said, in this case, what else can a school do to chase up payments? A school I used to teach at had a pupil whose parents didn't pay for the trip they went on and then banned the pupil from further trips until the balance was cleared. Like the isolations, it punished the pupil more than the parents but schools really cannot afford to absorb those losses with budgets as they are.

springwaters Fri 29-Jul-16 13:43:42

What most schools do:
Ask for payment of arrears
Wait a long time
Ask for payment of arrears again and again
Send a letter/speak to them saying that from X date the child will not longer be given a school dinner
Hope that that parent pays
If the parents doesn't pay then hope that the parents sends them with a lunch on that day
If the parents doesn't pay and doesn't send them with a lunch that day then give them a basic sandwich so that they have some food

BossWitch Fri 29-Jul-16 13:44:38

I would guess because the parents would ignore an invoice inkanta, and unlike a business the school don't have any means of chasing/enforcing payment?

NeedACleverNN Fri 29-Jul-16 13:45:17

Agree that the school would have to be sure that the lack of lunch/lunch money wasn't because the child was being neglected or abused though

Poor little Daniel Pelka just jumped into my head with this comment.

You can never be sure a child is not being abused.

DixieNormas Fri 29-Jul-16 13:53:26

Some parents wouldn't give a shit if their child ended up in isolation, the majority of parents who couldn't pay for what ever reason would phone the school to talk about it and send packed lunches

Inkanta Fri 29-Jul-16 13:56:54

'I would guess because the parents would ignore an invoice inkanta, and unlike a business the school don't have any means of chasing/enforcing payment?'

I cant see why they can chase payment in the usual way that anyone else does. Frustrating for them yes - but we can't go round punishing children for the adults' debt.

BarbLives Fri 29-Jul-16 14:03:55

Inkanta - would it be better for them to refuse to feed children unless the lunches are paid for in advance?
It would be very expensive and time consuming for schools to take multiple parents to the small claims court for £75. They would lose more money than they'd gain.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Fri 29-Jul-16 14:08:08

On the face of it, you shouldn't punish the child for the parent's failures. But there must be more to this than is apparent from the article.

Just one more thing. She's a friend of Gove- nuff said.

Inkanta Fri 29-Jul-16 14:10:58

It's guess expensive for any small business to take it to small claims but that's the procedure.

If someone owed me money it could be very tempting to kidnap their child and put them in isolation but I would restrain myself - hopefully!

BarbLives Fri 29-Jul-16 14:12:19

So would it be better not to let parents build up debt by not feeding the child?

StepAwayFromTheThesaurus Fri 29-Jul-16 14:15:38

It's the summer holidays. You'd think we'd be spared DM 'be outraged about what this school has done' articles until September.

TheUnsullied Fri 29-Jul-16 14:16:08

What's a 'basic bread and butter sandwich'? A sandwich with nothing on it? Schools don't really give empty sandwiches to kids who turn up without their lunch do they?

Sunshineonacloudyday Fri 29-Jul-16 14:18:53

If a parent can't afford school meals why don't they give their child a packed lunch?

I would feel embarrassed if that was me. How can you face the school after them sending you a £75 bill. The child must have been embarrassed and the mother sends the letter to the dm. Most of the parents at this school will know who she is.

Inkanta Fri 29-Jul-16 14:19:11

Probably would be a good idea to arrange a face to face with the parent and find out what's going on, because yes the kid's got to eat something.

Maybe safeguarding need to be involved.

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