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AIBU to think half an hour is not long enough for a school lunch break?

(108 Posts)
LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 09:37:18

Hello, really interested to hear all opinions on this, but especially those of teachers.

My dc school did a 'consultation' last month on whether to cut the school day by 10 mins by shortening the lunch break from 40 to 30.

I thought it was a bad move, and said so, giving a number of reasons. The school has now announced the 'following consultation' the day will be shortened as proposed, but they give no details of that consultation or how the decision was arrived at, so I wonder if the whole exercise was just flimflam to make parents think they were being listened to.

Word on the street is that they want to cut the lunch hour so older kids aren't getting involved in home time clashes with kids at a neighbouring (about 25 mins walk away) school.

So, is this done at your school? If so, how has it worked? I can't see how my dc - who do school council/production meetings etc at lunchtimes - can possibly find time to eat and unwind between sessions in such a short time.

Rufustherenegadereindeer1 Mon 17-Jul-17 09:40:25

Its flim flam

But a local school does it for a very similar reason and it seems to work well

LoniceraJaponica Mon 17-Jul-17 09:43:48

DD's school has a 40 minute break. 30 minutes isn't enough because the lunch queues are too long and many pupils wouldn't have time to eat their lunch. I can see why the school are considering it though.

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 17-Jul-17 09:46:01

Ds had this. The problem was the queues, the staggered lunch times didn't work so by the time you get the dinner there was no time to eat. Only way round was to take a pack lunch

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 09:47:00

My dc are unimpressed because they struggle to finish their lunch already. It's a huge school (nearly 1300 pupils) so lunch time is a stressful time for all as it is. Dd1 has ASD and won't go near the dining room - she hides behind the gym with her friend and her packed lunch - but dd2 has hot dinners and spends the best part of 15-20 mins in the queue hmm.

Everytimeref Mon 17-Jul-17 09:47:57

It's not long enough time for students or staff.

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 09:48:13

Yes, Olivers, looks like dd2 will have to go back to packed lunch. Meh.

simplysleepy Mon 17-Jul-17 09:52:43

Our school was worried about clashes locally, so changed starting times. If your sons school finishes 20/30 mins earlier or later, it may alleviate any potential clashes without affecting lunch

simplysleepy Mon 17-Jul-17 09:52:59

Sorry, daughters*

Allthebestnamesareused Mon 17-Jul-17 09:53:35

The meetings etc will presumably be moved to after school.

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 09:54:06

Simply, I'd be much happier with that.

ReinettePompadour Mon 17-Jul-17 09:54:17

Our school is about to reduce lunch from 1hr 10 mins to just 30 mins.

The consultation showed that the last pupil was served around 20 minutes into the lunch break. They use fingerprints to pay so its fairly accurate.

In addition the first problems encountered with rowdy/unruly students is around 30 minutes into the lunch break.

Cutting the lunch to just 30 minutes should get everyone fed and help prevent poor behaviour so a more focused afternoon session.

The school day has also been reduced by 40 minutes. It's got absolutely nothing to do with money saving at all apparently despite it being leaked to the newspaper by a Governor

Allthebestnamesareused Mon 17-Jul-17 09:55:11

Our school has 30 minute lunches but they are staggered for different year groups - so although each child gets 30 mins there are 4 sessions at 12 / 12.30/1.00/1.30

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 09:56:43

I don't think dc school are doing it to save money (though lunchtime staff might have a different perspective on that...) but I do hope all the children will get a chance to eat a decent meal and feel refreshed for the afternoon session.

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 09:58:38

Allthebestnames, again, more sensible than dc school's idea of just packing 1300 kids into the canteen for one half-hour break.

There's no fingerprinting or anything either - it's cash over the counter, which takes up time. Though hopefully they might change that. (If they can afford to.)

ReinettePompadour Mon 17-Jul-17 10:02:06

LordTrash Its possible it is to save money.

Employing supervising staff every lunch hour is going to cost something. Reducing the times of lunch will enable teaching staff to cover 15 minutes each more easily so no extra salary, national insurance or pension contributions.

We had 10 supervisors for lunch so around £80 per day or £400 a week plus all the other contributions made by the school. A school can do a lot with £400 a week including hiring another qualified teacher.

Whathaveilost Mon 17-Jul-17 10:03:06

allthebest names
That's how my high school managed lunch times and that was over 40 years ago and it was to avoid fights with the two othe high schools nearby!

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 10:04:52

That could be an element, then, Reinette. We did get the parental round robin asking us to contact our MP about school funding (which I did), so I know they're pretty worried about their budget.

Rhubarbtart9 Mon 17-Jul-17 10:04:53

Have you asked what they plan to do about food what with 20 min queues

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 10:06:43

Not yet, Rhubarb, but I'm going to. Thought I'd get a round-up of MN views and experiences first.

Babypythagorus Mon 17-Jul-17 10:12:10

I strongly feel it'll be a cost saving measure. I'm a Head, and have recently left England for Scotland as I simply couldn't live with the kind of decisions I was having to make due to this government's policies (both related to funding and education more generally)

Depending on how big the school is, cutting the lunch hour, and therefore canteen staff and playground supervisors' time, will be a significant saving over a year. It's probably enabling them to keep music or something.

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 10:15:03

Thank you, Babypythagoras, that's valuable information.

Makes sense, the more I think about it - dc school has a reputation in the region for offering the widest range of options at GCSE, A-Level and BTEC/NVQ. Sounds like they might be looking at ways to keep that range.

BubblesBuddy Mon 17-Jul-17 10:26:26

So when do young people have a chance to chat and relax? It's a bit like being a battery hen! Dreadful decision and such a rush. Poor for digestion too. Saving on supervision is negligible in a secondary budget. Such a shame there is no enrichment at lunchtime. Thank God my children had a better offering then this.

Babypythagorus Mon 17-Jul-17 10:40:28

It's honestly not negligible. If you've a lot of kids and therefore a lot of staff to supervise lunch, reducing the wage bill by almost an hour a week is not nothing. I completely agree it's a horrible solution for kids, and staff, but it's one school leaders are increasingly being forced to consider. Along with a range of other utterly hideous things, like cutting music, asking parents for cash, etc etc etc.

John Tomsett is doing good work writing about the choices we are forced to make:

LordTrash Mon 17-Jul-17 10:43:35

Bubbles, yes, I feel sad and angry that provision for my dc is worse than the provision I had (in the 80s) in so many respects.

Our lunch break was 75 minutes - in that time we had a massive range of co-curricular options. Now all my dc hobbies (apart from sports teams) take place outside school.

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