Boarding heads' plea to Gove: 'Let them eat cake'

11th June 2010 at 01:00
An impassioned plea to the new Westminster Government to let their pupils eat treats

State boarding school headteachers have made an impassioned plea to the new Westminster Government to let their pupils eat cake.

They are calling on Education Secretary Michael Gove to make it his "number one priority" to reinstate their right to serve such delicious boarding house staples as Chelsea buns and lemon shortbreads.

The eating of sweet bakery snacks between the hours of 8am and 6pm was banned in state schools by the strict 2007 School Food Regulations.

Any headteacher who does "risk it for a biscuit" and give children an iced finger before dusk could, in theory, end up in court for flouting the healthy-eating rules.

Boarding schools claim their traditional mid-afternoon snacks and even teatimes are marred by healthy-eating legislation.

Heads say the rules are inappropriate for the country's 35 state boarding schools, which includes St Brigid's School in Denbigh, north Wales.

Melvyn Roffe, head of Wymondham College in Norfolk, and vice chair of the Boarding Schools' Association, said the new education secretary should make it his priority to address the problem.

He said the "absurd" oversight had created a running joke in boarding school circles, but it was illustrative of wider problems with over- regulation in schools. The rules do not apply in independent boarding schools.

Paul Spencer Ellis, head teacher of the Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate, Surrey, added: "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.

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

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