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School forcing KS1 children to have school dinners

(72 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.

MotleyCroup Tue 08-Jul-14 18:48:40

Our school provide a healthy and balanced sandwich box option. Is this possibly what your school will provide?

mrssmooth Tue 08-Jul-14 18:50:33

Our school also provides filled rolls/sandwiches and jacket potatoes alongside hot dinners so perhaps this might be something they will introduce if they don't already provide it? They can't force children to eat ...!

mrz Tue 08-Jul-14 18:52:19

The school can't force your child to have school lunch but the alternative may be that you take them home for lunch.

Myfanwyprice Tue 08-Jul-14 18:52:40

I had the induction meeting at my dd's school today; they said that under the new guidelines they have to provide a hot meal for every key stage 1 child, so no option of a school packed lunch; but they did say it was up to parents if they had the hot meal or send in a packed lunch and they can have a combination throughout the week.

gemgemninknonk Tue 08-Jul-14 19:14:41

Perhaps I should elaborate on some of the concerns I have regarding the dinners;

* As mentioned before my children do have school dinners now & again, probably on average about once a week, whenever I question them as to what they have eaten that day it is always the seemingly unhealthier option such as fish and chips, hot dog, burger & chips, thinking a 6 year old will make the right choice from a menu is just ridiculous, so the optional salad platter or jacket potato is pretty much redundant.

* I have an older sibling who will not be getting packed lunches, this is going to cause all sorts of arguments and 'it's not fair' scenarios as I just couldn't afford the dinners everyday.

* Chocolate pudding, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate fruity crisp, jam roly poly with custard or similar are on the menu everyday. We have a pudding after our main meal each evening, sometimes we will have a sugary pudding, sometimes fruit, yogurts etc but I am really not keen on my child having 2 very sugary puddings a day, am I just to say to him at dinner that he can not have a slice of cake that the rest of his family are enjoying or shall I just let him eat 2 puddings a day even though I don't agree with it?

* I am worried about the number of calories he will be consuming, usually if they have had a hot school dinner we will have salads, jacket potatoes, a sandwich or soup for tea but surely 2 full cooked meals a day would be too much, they also seem to have bread with everything, one day last month my older son had pizza, potato wedges & bread followed by apple pie, not exactly a balanced meal is it.

Quite frankly I am just furious that my choice has been taken away, I like the flexible options we have now and it has worked for us. I understand that there are many parents that cannot provide a balanced healthy packed lunch for their children but it shouldn't mean that those who can are discriminated. I am lucky that my children are not fussy eaters but what about the parents that have picky eaters, will they just go hungry?

Stuffofawesome Tue 08-Jul-14 19:19:34

Sorry no advice but Myfanwy I think that is an immoral waste of food and money if they plan to cook for every child regardless.

mrz Tue 08-Jul-14 19:23:08

Perhaps you need to ask to see the calorie content as schools have to provide a balanced diet with calories carefully counted.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 08-Jul-14 19:26:17

I don't understand why it would be compulsory. Surely a school has no right to override a parents decision to send a packed lunch. Even drs can't do that can they?


How bloody annoying

mygrandchildrenrock Tue 08-Jul-14 19:53:22

From September, all school meals have to conform to new school food standards and I think chips are allowed once a week, it should be much healthier than the menu you describe.
The Government isn't insisting that schools provide a hot lunch, but are strongly encouraging them to. I think the actual wording says 'it is expected that all children will be provided with a hot meal...' however as I'm not at work I can't be sure of the exact wording.
Many schools are doing what yours are and only providing hot meals. You can always write to the Chair of Governors and the Headteacher requesting that your child is allowed to take a packed lunch in and see what they say. The other options are to either take your child home for lunch or change your main meal at home.

Myfanwyprice Tue 08-Jul-14 20:09:15

Sorry stuff I should've been clearer; at the school they already run a system of letting each child/parent decide on the day, so you can swap between school dinners and home lunches without having to give notice.

I'm not sure how this works out in terms of having enough supplies, but I think they only prepare school dinners for those who have asked for them at registration.

mrz Tue 08-Jul-14 20:15:38

That's the way most schools work

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 08-Jul-14 20:20:35

I am not sure if they are allowed to do this, I don't agree with it myself but there are private schools around that say children MUST eat the school meals.

We are going to try them until half term, both mine will qualify for them this year and the menus sent home looked reasonable although I suspect some days they won't eat anything at all but they are certainly working on a slightly more healthy choice than you describe. We have to preorder the food so have just done it now until october! of course by then they might have changed what they eat completely.

our school is doing a mix of hot meals and sandwiches because not enough kitchen space yet but this is temporary.

I wouldn't be happy at being told they had to have it and certainly given how many parents have mentioned this last week that they won't be accepting the free meals for a whole variety of reasons they wouldn't be happy at being forced to have them either.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 08-Jul-14 20:21:19

My children go to private schools where school meals have always been compulsory except in the case if one child on a special ketagenic(sp) diet

Never been a problem.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 08-Jul-14 20:23:53

mygrandchildrenrock - the actual wording as I read it would imply that schools have to OFFER a hot meal, not insist that the children HAVE to have it. All schools should be offering parents who want it the opportunity for their child to have a hot meal at lunchtime but the parent still has to have a say in it.

I for one personally feel our family evening meals are extremely important, we sit down and we all eat the same thing at the same time (assuming hubby can get out of work on time) talking about our days. My children will be having 2 cooked meals a day but I am hoping that this will actually just end up reducing the number of snacks they have rather than increase their calories too much but will see what happens.

mrz Tue 08-Jul-14 20:26:09

I think research has show that there are more calories in "typical" packed lunches (not sure what is meant by typical) than school lunches

stargirl1701 Tue 08-Jul-14 20:29:56

The 'puddings' at school dinners contain no sugar. I can't eat the apple crumble at school because it is so sour. The choc cake tastes of flour not choc or sugar. It's weird to look at these puddings and then eat them. They are not what you expect.

500internalerror Tue 08-Jul-14 20:30:44

School dinner portions are tiny ime, so I wouldn't worry about them eating too much! Even on dinners, ds comes out starving at home time, & has a reasonable tea too.

mrz Tue 08-Jul-14 20:31:29

and the crumble is made of oats with no fat content to comply with the rules

Vacillating Tue 08-Jul-14 20:32:45

I imagine the majority of parents who would still opt to provide a packed lunch are confident that it meets the nutritional needs of their child successfully. They may be justifiably sceptical that the hot meals provided will do the same when we have had nation wide problems with the quality of school meal provision.

I doubt parents will see much change if their impression of the current meals is poor. Our provider is an improvement on use last but the food is poor and personal selection can render nutritional balance irrelevance. There are no plans for menu changes and I won't be using them more than once a week.

I would love to see better food, more families included in free school meals and think this policy ridiculous.

mygrandchildrenrock Tue 08-Jul-14 20:44:55

The guidance to schools doesn't make it clear if schools can 'insist' it's hot meals or no meals though. As I said I would write to your Chair of Govs, not a complaining letter, merely asking if you are still allowed to send in a packed lunch for your child and see what they reply.

Retropear Tue 08-Jul-14 21:05:22

See I want my dc to have more of their calories at school.They are starving after a school dinner.I'd rather they had more calories at school when they are on the go constantly than stuffing as they walk in from school and during tea.The hot dinner we have at home isn't that high in calories and it works well.We all eat together,talking and it's just right for an evening meal that will be followed by limited activity.

So I have no problems with packed lunches containing more calories than the paltry school dinners on offer.

jamtoast12 Tue 08-Jul-14 21:09:38

There no way my kids could have a small tea after hot school dinners! My kids need two hot meals. In fact they are usually more hungry on hot dinner days than on packed lunch days. I agree, two hot meals would hopefully reduce snacks but I def wouldn't substitute one dinner for a snack type meal.

I think the social aspect is important. In our school, due to size, kids on packed lunch can't sit with kids on hot dinners so for me I let me kids choose. If all the kids are on hot dinners I'm not sure I'd want mine to be the only one.

apermanentheadache Tue 08-Jul-14 21:11:31

There is nothing to prevent schools having a 'no packed lunches' policy. You can complain to the governors if you want to but the school is entirely within its rights. What they couldn't do though is - to give an example - insist all children had school dinners and not provide options for pupils with medical or religious needs.

Retropear Tue 08-Jul-14 21:15:06

Our school dinners and packed lunches all eat together,why on earth wouldn't they.

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