'Tighten up' on school adverts

19th February 1999 at 00:00
Nine in ten parents want tighter rules on business advertising in schools, research by the Consumers' Association has found. They are worried that companies are trying to exploit "pester-power" by advertising in schools.

The recent explosion of business involvement in schools has opened up opportunities for firms eager to tap into the children's market. Many companies - including Alton Towers and British Nuclear Fuel - produce branded curriculum materials for teachers.

Parents want to prevent companies having too much power and influence in schools; to stop commercial exploitation of children; and to ensure that the "right sort of companies" are involved. But the Consumers' Association found that parents are in favour of business involvement where it enhances education. The full report will be published next month.

Cadbury produces "The World of Chocolate" for key stages 2 and 3 and "What makes the potato tick," is available courtesy of the Potato Marketing Board.

However, the educational value of some materials has been questioned. McDonalds attracted criticism when its music packs suggested that pupils make up lyrics to Old McDonald had a store.

Juliet Wells, the association's consumer education officer, said: "Are companies getting involved because it is an untapped marketing opportunity? There is a great deal of material around which has very little educational value."

Existing guidelines are produced by the National Consumer Council. A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Employment said: "We support the NCC guidelines, but it is up to schools how they interpret them." Analysis, 20

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