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Lunchtime lockup for UK pupils

Politicians are considering a plan to lock pupils in at lunchtime to stop them spending money on junk meals outside.

by: Food24 | 10 Sep 2007

It is now two years since British schools have gone on a health binge after Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver began his one-man campaign for healthier food in schools, which has proved popular in some, but by no means all.

The BBC reported that in Denbighshire they plan lock pupils in to stop them leaving school at lunchtime to buy junk food. Denbighshire's education officials have mooted the idea because pupils have all but ignored the healthy lunch options that have been on offer for more than a year now. In fact, if fast food – chips and the like – are served, uptake apparently shoots up by 40%.

Denbighshire Council wants to reverse a slump in school meal take-up and is considering rolling out the lock-up idea across the county.

Oliver said, "It's also important that the school food is tasty, that the dinner ladies are being supported, that the dining room is good and not too crowded and that the kids have enough time to get their food and eat it during break."

A working group has drawn up draft guidance for head teachers to establish an all-school policy "encouraging schools to retain pupils on school sites over the lunch break."

School governors, head teachers and teaching unions will now be asked for their views on the draft, according to a report to be discussed by councillors.

A report due to go before the council says: "One of the key issues affecting the uptake of school meals at secondary level is thought to be the lunchtime policies of individual schools.

Steve Price, of Denbighshire Council, said the policy of banning them from leaving in the lunch hour was already in place at some schools and had "worked quite successfully".

More than 4,000 questionnaires had been given out to pupils as part of extensive market research done by the council. This had been used to develop new menus going out this week to parents, he said.

Feedback showed pupils were not against the healthy eating initiative, he said, adding: "We've found that probably fish and chips does still have the edge but if that option is withdrawn, or at least limited, students do quite quickly get used to... and enjoy, the new healthy eating menus."

But does locking pupils in and forcing them to eat 'healthy' meals, take it just a bit too far?

- None


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