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eating packed lunches outside in the rain

(27 Posts)
concord Fri 09-Jul-04 23:14:02

My sons' church primary school shares its assembly/dinner/sports/everything really hall with the church.

The hall and adjacent kitchen building is one of those old fashioned prefab types you used to see in every village. Small for the 170 or so children and teachers. And dangerous. Overhead electric heating in head-touching distance when children use the gym bars. Condensation from cooking makes the wiring unsafe for a whole day afterwards.

The school have long campaigned for a new hall. Both lottery funding and LEA funding campaigns have failed. Access to the site of a new hall is difficult and this pushes up the cost.

The church has now decided to ban the school from using the hall. I have heard that this is partly a political move to force the council's hand into funding a new hall for the school. The church govenors are also worried about the insurance implications of the unsafe, outdated hall being used by so many adults and children. They have now put a ban on all school events - fetes, plays etc - in the hall.

Children can no longer have school dinners in the hall and there is no kitchen anyway, so all of them must eat a packed lunch. Last week they ate outside in the rain on benches and tables. Some tables had large umbrellas but many didn't. It was cold and really damp - we are not talking light drizzle.

I can understand what the school and church are doing in forcing the council's hand, but I am very worried that my sons are eating their lunch in these conditions and I dread to think what will happen in the autumn.

Do you think the school and church have any chance in getting the council to fund a hall by doing this? I really want to school to have a better hall but not at the expense of my sons eating in the rain at lunchtime for months and months. Do you think I should complain and if so to the school or to the council?

PS I am a regular mumsnetter - you might guess who I am...

daisy1999 Fri 09-Jul-04 23:16:05

Yuch soggy sarnies. Not acceptable. Would you eat your lunch outside in the cold and wet? Children shouldn't have to. I would definately complain to everybody.

Angeliz Fri 09-Jul-04 23:16:58

Complain to both!!

Janh Fri 09-Jul-04 23:20:35

Oh, dear. What are the funding responsibilities in this situation? Presumably the church thinks the LEA should pay and vv - but to make the kids eat outside in the rain is a very mean way of going about things.

Have no idea who you should complain to, but to both sounds like a good place to start. Maybe ring the LEA first and see what they say, and then ring the school and see what they say (take notes or record the convo!), and *then*, maybe, go to your MP, because this is pathetic. (Or try the Sun, they are always on the lookout for interesting stories! Mention them as a possibility to all parties!)

Lots of luck, concord (whoever you are)

mummytojames Fri 09-Jul-04 23:20:39

i agree complain to both and keep complaining until they decide to something about it also get the other mothers to complain things work quicker in force

lydialemon Fri 09-Jul-04 23:23:40

Absolutely out of order! If they were mine, I'd remove them from the school each lunchtime - but I'm at home, so that's easy for me to say!

Can't they eat in the classrooms? I know that would mean more supervision, but they surely can't expect them to continue to eat out side in all weathers. What are they going to do next term?

gloworm Fri 09-Jul-04 23:26:35

agree you should definately complain to as many appropriate groups as possible...those poor kids, they must be miserable for the rest of the afternoon sitting in wet clothes , i wonder why they could not eat in their class rooms when it was raining?

coppertop Fri 09-Jul-04 23:26:52

What about contacting local newspapers in the hope of shaming someone into taking action? Even if the LEA/Council agreed tomorrow that they would fund a new hall, the planning, design and building work would surely take months/years! They can't expect children to eat outside in all weathers. Where do the teachers eat?

Janh Fri 09-Jul-04 23:34:17

Contact the Sun at : talkback@the-sun.co.uk

if you get no satisfaction elsewhere!

concord Fri 09-Jul-04 23:34:40

wow, you're quick! like the idea of complaining to the press, but want to know more details first. There's a school/church/parents meeting this week so I will go along to it to get my facts straight.

Also, I don't know whether the LEA feel the church ( at national level I mean, not just our small church) should foot the bill or contribute to the cost.

I have wondered why the children can't eat their food in the classrooms. Surely this has got to happen next term? how could any teacher let 4 year olds eat outside on cold, wet days in the winter?

When I go to the hall meefing, what questions should I ask - any suggestions?

janh - clue: I msn-ed you last week!

lou33 Fri 09-Jul-04 23:37:28

I was just going to ask what Gloworm says, why can't they eat in the classrooms?

gloworm Fri 09-Jul-04 23:39:29

concord do I get the feeling you want us to figure out who you are

roisin Fri 09-Jul-04 23:45:06

Concord - what 'sort' of church school is it? My brain's gone blank, and I can't remember the terminology. But as I understand it one type means 'the church' are responsible for the fabric of the building, and the other type they're not.

Btw agree with the other comments here, it's completely unacceptable ... even for 2 weeks in July, and certainly for September and onwards. And let's face it a new hall isn't going to be ready for this September.

Protest loudly.

poppyseed Fri 09-Jul-04 23:46:24

Major cause for concern with an array of health and safety implications here. I personally would raise it asap with an appointment with the head. Can there be no short term solution such as children eating in their classrooms supervised by lunchtime staff? If you receive no joy then I would involve the chair of governors and the LEA by letter. This should not be permitted imo.

poppyseed Fri 09-Jul-04 23:48:12

Roisin - voluntary controlled?

codswallop Fri 09-Jul-04 23:49:16

why not the clasrooms?

concord Sat 10-Jul-04 00:33:28

it's voluntary aided, and interesting what you say about the church in some cases being responsible for the school buildings. Must find out more about this.

I can't see why the children can't eat in the classrooms either. It's one question I will be asking.

As for complaining to the LEA, I wonder if that's exactly what the school and/or church hope us parents will do?

daisy1999 Sat 10-Jul-04 00:36:40

There must be some guidelines about suitable surrounding for schoolchildren to eat in. I can't believe they are allowed to do this!

poppyseed Sat 10-Jul-04 00:38:07

I can only think that they can't eat in the classrooms for a direct supervision reason (ie not enough lunchtime supervisers for classrooms?) that or clearing up the mess on the floors, or some other health and safety reason (although as it's Primary there may not be the issues that were in my school. I used to be a Science teacher and my lab was locked to all during break and dinner).

Batters Sat 10-Jul-04 12:32:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

codswallop Sat 10-Jul-04 12:33:49

my sisters school hadnt a hall for years and alt hekids ate in classrooms

the new hall opened last weekend!

hana Sat 10-Jul-04 12:47:47

our school hall was being renovated a couple of years ago and students ate in their classrooms for a few months.

roisin Sat 10-Jul-04 17:19:01

It says here that church schools usually have to find 15% of capital costs.

I have been unable to dredge up any more solid facts from my brain today, but I know that in the case of some church schools 'the church' owns the land and the buildings (and therefore diocesan finance can be a factor in deciding on small schools closing), so it would follow that they have some responsibility for new buildings.

If it's a church hall which is used extensively by the church at non-school times, then I would say you've clearly got a very messy situation, and potentially very prolonged project as the plans will have to be ratified and approved by many different bodies.

sis Sat 10-Jul-04 18:45:01

Agree with everyone else - making the children sit out in the cold(well, it wasn't very warm last week was it?) and wet to eat their lunch to 'make a point' is irresponsible and, definately, unacceptable. I'm sure that they will let the children into the classrooms now that they have made their point.

concord Fri 16-Jul-04 14:38:54

am update - the school have now got enough staff to supervise children eating in their classrooms at lunchtime when the weather is bad.

The oficial line is that the church and the school are working in harmony together to get the local council to fund repairs to the present church hall. The council have apparently go on the case.

The hall committe (school and church) emphatically don't want any adverse press publicity, as they feel this would antagonise the council, rather than motivate the council to do the work more quickly. This reasoning is IMO debatable but I will be keeping quiet.

I guess I'll have to see what September brings.

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