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No talking at lunchtime - is this the norm?

(36 Posts)
Eggs Thu 13-Oct-11 21:27:30

My children have just started in primary school in London and my 9 year old is very upset about the fact that the children have to eat their lunch in silence. If they talk they are not allowed to go out for playtime. Also the children that eat a packed lunch have to wait until all the children that have school dinners are finished. I find this all very strange and think that the children should be allowed to chat while they are having lunch, it should be a social occasion. Is this the norm?

Butkin Thu 13-Oct-11 21:31:29

At DD's school they sit on tables of mixed ages with a teacher on each table. According to DD they are not allowed to talk until each person has been served their lunch (they are allowed to ask for veggie option or ploughmans rather than set hot meal). They are then encouraged to chat politely and engage with everybody on their table.

Gotarty Thu 13-Oct-11 21:42:47

School dinners & packed lunches share dining facilities. Conversation is encouraged at a reasonable noise level.

No talking during meals sounds very old fashioned - is it generally an old fashioned school?

exoticfruits Thu 13-Oct-11 22:06:43

I have never come across it as a supply teacher. Eating is a sociable activity.

exoticfruits Thu 13-Oct-11 22:07:11

Would adults like to eat in silence? I don't think so!

Elibean Thu 13-Oct-11 22:15:35


Sounds sad.

cat64 Thu 13-Oct-11 22:33:07

Message withdrawn

yellowsubmarine41 Thu 13-Oct-11 22:37:44

Is it a faith school? I think some Catholic schools in particular want children to focus on their gratitude to God et al for the food, rather than engage in frivolous chit chat.

Eggs Thu 13-Oct-11 22:39:57

We have just moved here from Ireland and my 9 year old finds this rule really difficult to get her head around. She says that the whistle is blown, then all the children sit and eat, if they talk then they are not allowed out to play and so once they are finished they have to sit in slience until everyone else is finished. I find this really over the top. It is an 'Outstanding school' in its ofsted report. It is quite strict, however no uniform. My daughter says that it is all work in the class room and as she cannot talk to her classmates at lunchtime she is finding it hard to make friends as once they go out to play they all go into their own little groups. My heart goes out to her. Also as it so acedemic I feel that this is even more reason to have downtime and be allowed to chat and socailise at lunchtime. Is it allowed in this day and age to enforce silence during mealtimes, I would think that this is against some government guidelines? We live in Greenwich and supposedly Jamie Oliver did the school dinner thing here, I cannot believe that eating in silence was part of this deal...any advice or suggestions how I tackle this with the school? I feel that as we are only new to the area I cannot go in all guns blazing ifykwim.

Eggs Thu 13-Oct-11 22:40:54

Sorry meant to say this is not a faith school.

GuillotinedMaryLacey Thu 13-Oct-11 22:43:26

Is it a faith school? I think some Catholic schools in particular want children to focus on their gratitude to God et al for the food, rather than engage in frivolous chit chat.

That's a new one on me!

omnishambles Thu 13-Oct-11 22:48:10

Is it just because they only have half an hour and if they are talking then nothing gets eaten - they have had to do something similar at ds' school as some of the dc weren't eating anything for lunch at all - they were too busy chatting and so they were hungry all afternoon. I also think that the dc might be exaggerating a little bit.

The packed lunch bit sounds normal as well - everyone normally leaves at the same time dont they?

Maybe (and I dont mean this harshly) you could have chosen a different school than one so strict and academic?

NotJustClassic Thu 13-Oct-11 22:50:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Eggs Thu 13-Oct-11 22:58:48

I totally agree that sometimes the children do chat too much and that some level of calmness is required in the canteen. However for the age group in question, year 3 to year 6 surely they realise that is they don't eat they will be hungry, this in itself is a lesson that kids need to learn! In relation to my choice of school, I choose it because of the acedemic level, as the level of education in our home country is higher than that of the schools here, however I did not think that in 2011 in a school that is considered outstanding, and adopts a healthy eating policy I would even have to ask if the children would be allowed to chat to their peers while eating.

Gotarty Thu 13-Oct-11 23:37:40

Ofsted Outstanding grade can be an odd beast...we walked away from one towards an Ofsted Satisfactory - it's a much healthier environment, imo... I assumed Ofsted knew a good school but discovered we had very differing views on what a good school is.

Eggs Thu 13-Oct-11 23:53:26

Gotarty - I agree, I am begining to think that although they say that it is not only based on acedemic levels I have my doubts. It seems that the social side of things seem to slip under the radar! As we moved from abroad we had no chance to visit the schools before we applied.

DeWe Fri 14-Oct-11 09:34:35

I've come across this at a couple of local schools. The first time I didn't believe the parent until she said she'd seen it rather than had it reported home.
I'm very glad my dc's schools don't do this as I think it is a very good way for a child who is shy at approaching others in the playground to socialise and be able to join in easier.

exoticfruits Fri 14-Oct-11 19:06:49

A good reason for not going just on an Ofsted, you need to visit. Maybe they didn't sit in silence when Ofsted were visiting.

Eggs Fri 14-Oct-11 20:57:36

We have a parents evening next week - I am going to mention it then, just to see what their reasoning is behind it.

cat64 Fri 14-Oct-11 21:33:46

Message withdrawn

Agree that this is a horrible idea, though I've now heard of a few places that do it. I wouldn't want my children at a school that insists on Dickensian ideas such as this tbh. I think that some schools are going so far down the 'strict discipline' path that they are failing to teach children any social skills.

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 14-Oct-11 22:27:37

Feeling very sad for your DD. I would definitely mention it at parents' evening - and explain how it is adversely affecting your DD's ability to make friends. And, no, it would never have occurred to me to ask about silence at mealtimes either.

TheFeministsZombieBride Fri 14-Oct-11 22:39:30

shock What a bloody miserable lot the teachers must be! Your poor dd wanting to make friends. sad

At our school the kids are encouraged to talk, and packed lunch kids are allowed to sit with hot dinner kids so they can all sit with their friends and no one is left out.

omnishambles Sat 15-Oct-11 12:32:27

I wouldnt mention the fact that you think the level of education in Ireland is loads better than here though - that will go down like a lead balloon - its already got my back up.

Panzee Sat 15-Oct-11 12:55:08

Don't blame the teachers! The dining hall is not our domain. The dinner staff have rules in there that boggle the mind grin

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