What would Bunter say? Boarding schools threatened with prosecution for feeding pupils cake

bunter

Tubby rascal Billy Bunter tucks into some cake... but boarding schools now face fines for dishing out sweet snacks

Boarding schools are being threatened with prosecution for feeding pupils traditional snacks such as Chelsea buns and shortbread.

Heads of state boarding schools have been told that giving pupils sweet treats mid-morning and after school flouts strict new school food rules inspired by TV chef Jamie Oliver.

They have been warned by Government officials they face being taken to court and possibly sent to jail or fined if they defy the regulations.

Now the country's 35 state boarding schools are calling on Education Secretary Michael Gove to give them the right to let their pupils eat cake.

They say he must make it his 'number one priority' to address the 'absurd' rules introduced by Labour in the wake of Oliver's healthy food crusade.

Under the new school food regime, cakes and biscuits cannot be given out as snacks between 8am and 6pm, only as part of school lunch.

Coco Pops cannot be served at breakfast because they count as 'confectionery' while sausages can only be fed to pupils once every two weeks.

Heads say the rules are less of a problem in day schools because many children finish at 3.20pm and can go home and eat what they like.

But state boarding schools find their traditional afternoon snacks being wrecked by healthy food laws.

Boarding schools

Boarding schools are dismayed that their traditional afternoon treats are being wrecked by healthy food laws

Melvyn Roffe, head of Wymondham College in Norfolk, said: 'We asked the department what would happen is we chose to break the rules and they said they could take us to court.

'If we failed to comply I could end up in prison for contempt.'

He added: 'We like to serve the children a biscuit at 11am, and we do that because some of the children will have a games activity before lunch and it's in their interest to have something.'

Paul Spencer Ellis, head of Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate, Surrey, said: 'The whole logic is that the regulations are for a day school where the parents aren't going to feed them properly at home, but in a boarding school we do all their meals.

'As it stands, pupils come into the boarding house after school and they want to grab some carbs and it's illegal. It's illegal to me to give them a sticky bun.'

He told the Times Educational Supplement the rules also barred him from serving Coco Pops at breakfast and placed strict limits on sausages and even low-fat spread on potatoes.

Ofsted appears to share his concerns.

In a recent inspection report on the school, the watchdog said: 'While there is no doubt that there is a necessity for clear guidelines with regard to the food provision for children, this must be taken in the appropriate context.

'It is difficult to see how the new guidelines are appropriate to boarding schools.'

Independent boarding schools are not affected because they do not have to abide by the rules.

Hilary Moriarty, national director of the Boarding Schools' Association, said: 'The regulations were steamrollered in against the needs of boarding schools where boarders expect homely food because school, for them, is home.'

A spokesman for the School Food Trust said: 'The standards are an important part of the continuing work to transform school food and give young people a more consistent message about healthy choices.'


 

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