With the recent announcement that Scotland's largest local authority will encourage healthy eating in schools by banning the pupils from leaving the grounds for lunch, it is an important time to consider the environment to which we are confining children.
While healthy eating is an issue that needs to be addressed, it is also vital that young people are provided with a safe, fun, and pleasant outdoor environment in break time - one that offers seating, shelter, options for active play and access to natural space. Sadly, many urban secondary school grounds are bleak, harsh and unwelcoming environments, from which most people in their right mind would attempt to escape. Research shows that children interpret the quality of their school grounds as an indication of the extent to which they are valued by the school. Forcibly detaining children in poor-quality school grounds indicates that we neither trust them nor value their well-being.
The win-win approach to tackling obesity and junk food is to make school grounds places where pupils want to stay, by providing a stimulating environment that encourages healthy active play and makes break time enjoyable.
Alastair Seaman, programme manager, Grounds for Learning, Alloa.