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Teachers are not dietitians

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While it's important for schools to promote healthy living and maintain academic levels for children, there are some choices gone too far. Charles Dickens School in Kent have begun daily bag checks for pupils and taking any unhealthy food. Sweets, crisps, chocolate, fizzy and energy drinks are all taken and not returned, which was introduced to improve concentration levels.

 

The decision has been met with a backlash from parents who believe that this level of control is out of order. Jennifer Keen on behalf of her 12-year-old son Vincent said "He said "We've been searched today". I was expecting him to say for knives or something but he said "Crisps and sweets"." It's ridiculous to think that the school views Mars Bars and Coca-Cola as serious contraband when they are not doing anything except feed them at lunchtime. While they may be worried about the health effects of these foods, it's down to the students and parents to choose the right amount to eat. 

By forcing the students to not eat certain foods, the school is suggesting that it knows the wellness of all the children which it does not. Mum Tina Brown emphasises this: "When needed my son has chocolate and I am not going to stop that. He is perfectly healthy." The parents know their children, they know how much they eat and they alone are entitled to decide what is acceptable and what isn't. The school has stated that they were following the healthy eating theme in the government's National Healthy School Policy. However, the programme said that its aim was "enabling young people to make informed decisions about healthy food."

This is the approach that the school should have stuck in maintaining healthy eating, rather than creating a sugar-free boot camp. With the children becoming young adults and gaining personal independence, they deserve to make their own decision about what to eat because it is their bodies and health. Promoting healthy eating and warning of the consequences of fatty foods are important for all children, but from then it's out of the teacher's hands.

Headmaster Richard Morgan said the aim of the scheme was to improve productivity in the school, saying "We had noticed a deterioration in concentration, learning and behaviour particularly from students bringing into school large multi-packs of unhealthy food, snacks and drinks." While it's important to tackle dropping levels of learning, you would think the answer was to do it like any other school. Behaviour warnings and detentions for any students who don't concentrate in class and encourage them to improve, instead of creating a snack ban for absolutely everyone. The focus should be given to individual students who teachers believe are miss behaving and not affecting everyone else who works perfectly well.

Surely it would give a clearer message to punish a student with a warning rather than taking half their lunch away.

There is also the issue that the food some parents give their children is the only option, and all they were doing was providing for their family the best way they could. This is expressed by local councillor Karen Constantine who said: "This type of policy unfairly targets poorer children, their mums and dads don't shop at Waitrose, they are going to the local supermarket, they are trying their best for their children, but this is not the way to solve the problem." Confiscating food is not only asserting unacceptable authority but is interfering with the children's personal lives. The teachers don't know the family's financial situations or what food they are able to buy, and quite frankly they have no right to know. What they choose to give their children or whether they let them decide this for themselves is up to them. 

The authority that teachers have over children in school remain in learning and behavioural context, but restricting their food and taking their chocolate bars are unacceptable.

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