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Feed all the children

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 tew 12 Oct 2022

Having just read this article and been thinking about the cost of living crisis, the obesity crisis, kids not eat healthy food, etc

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/liz-truss-free-school-meals-feed-the-future-b2199498.html

I've slowly come to the conclusion that all kids should have free school meals. Something that is 100% nutritionally beneficial to them. It would also stop some kids feeling embarrassed that they are having free school meals. It could also be included in to their lessons and teach them what healthy eating is.

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In reply to tew:

I know of a college that went did something along these lines. Everyone got a free breakfast and free travel to college to try to level the playing field a bit. Seemed like a good idea, although it upset the other local colleges.

At the very least, I like the approach one of my partner’s schools took to free school meals. The canteens only took vouchers, not cash. Those who were paying for their own payed in advance for vouchers and obviously those getting free school meals were just given the vouchers. It meant that no one could tell who was getting free school meals which at least dealt with the embarrassment/stigma issue. It also presumably meant that lunch money actually got spent on lunch rather than sweets and fags on the way to school.

In reply to tew:

A lot of the Scandinavian countries already do that. It is just considered part of the school day for everyone to get lunch.

I think a lot of schools have moved over to lunch being paid via a topped-up card or account accessed by fingerprint scan as it removes the stigma for free school meals and also stops issues with forgotten or lost lunch money.

 jethro kiernan 12 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

In principle  I agree with you, however in Britain 2022 I don’t think it would work, we don’t have a good food heritage or culture in this country, or certainly not one strong enough to make this a thing. It would be farmed out to large scale outsourcing firms (the same ones who do prisons) who would make its (obscene) profit splitting hairs between healthy and “economical” and paying its low trained staff the bare minimum, the food would be prepared by low paid employees from the cheapest acceptable ingredients without love or imagination and all we would do is teach our kids food doesn’t matter.

I'm sure there is a better way but it would require a fundamental change in the way government does “business” 

 If competition was a matter of regional civic pride rather than pounds and value meant environment, health and education not just the cheapest produce then maybe it would work but we live in a consumer society not a civic society.

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 dread-i 12 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

I fully agree with you on this. However, it has been tried before. Jamie Oliver and Marcus Rashford had the ear of the public and government. These were in better times, economically. Not a great deal has happened since then. As the article mentions some areas have free meals others dont.

From the article:

A new study by accounting firm PwC shows that the cost of extending free school meals to all school children in poverty is far outweighed by the benefits, with PwC reporting a net benefit of £2.4bn over 20 years.

Two problems with that. One it's twenty years, not next week. Recent governments wont look longer term. Secondly, if they had said, these kids (and their parents) will likely vote conservative, I think it would have been a high priority. The majority of the people needing assistance are on low incomes. Poor people don't vote conservative.

The same paper said that some kids and parents are stealing food, out of desperation. I bet the cost of a single court case would feed a class of kids for a week. But different budgets, different ministers. More money for crime and punishment, as that appeals to the voters.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hunger-food-children-poverty-uk-b2199249.html

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In reply to tew:

Seems a good idea, but you would need to make it genuinely good food.  I'm not sure it ever has been in the UK, or at least not universally.  School dinners in my parents' generation had a terrible reputation to the point that there was a playground song about them (you probably know what I mean), for my generation they were poor quality grease and chips (which begged the question as to why we weren't allowed to go off site and go to the actual chippy for better quality food for less money), and now they're often not even there at all.

Perhaps a simple but good way of doing it is a freshly-made sandwich and salad bar?

Post edited at 12:08
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Perhaps a simple but good way of doing it is a freshly-made sandwich and salad bar?

Sandwiches are costly to make due to the labour. Bulk cooking is the way forward.

In reply to Toerag:

> Sandwiches are costly to make due to the labour. Bulk cooking is the way forward.

Depends what you're cooking.  I suppose pasta dishes and the likes are cheaper to make in bulk, but if it's rubbish then we're back where we started.

 Forest Dump 12 Oct 2022
In reply to jethro kiernan:

This, unfortunately. It would end up an outsourced race to the bottom like everything else in the Uk

1
 Wainers44 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Depends what you're cooking.  I suppose pasta dishes and the likes are cheaper to make in bulk, but if it's rubbish then we're back where we started.

But back where we started isn't back to slightly crappy school lunches which we were subjected to. 

Back to the start now, means just back to having 2 cans of Monster and a packet of crisps bought on the way to the bus with what little lunch money was chucked your way.

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

> But back where we started isn't back to slightly crappy school lunches which we were subjected to. 

 I've been in about 20 schools in the last 12 months. IMO the quality is very good, my issue would be that they are quite expensive for kids nor eligible for FSM

> Back to the start now, means just back to having 2 cans of Monster and a packet of crisps bought on the way to the bus with what little lunch money was chucked your way.

Schools providing cereal and toast, for breakfast, shouldn't be too expensive or difficult and would be a vast improvement on what you have described, which is normal for far to many kids 

 DaveHK 12 Oct 2022
In reply to jethro kiernan:

> In principle  I agree with you, however in Britain 2022 I don’t think it would work, we don’t have a good food heritage or culture in this country, or certainly not one strong enough to make this a thing. It would be farmed out to large scale outsourcing firms (the same ones who do prisons) who would make its (obscene) profit splitting hairs between healthy and “economical” and paying its low trained staff the bare minimum, the food would be prepared by low paid employees from the cheapest acceptable ingredients without love or imagination and all we would do is teach our kids food doesn’t matter.

> I'm sure there is a better way but it would require a fundamental change in the way government does “business” 

>  If competition was a matter of regional civic pride rather than pounds and value meant environment, health and education not just the cheapest produce then maybe it would work but we live in a consumer society not a civic society.

All of the above plus, unless it was made compulsory to stay in school for lunch kids would continue to vote with their feet and bugger off to chippy/burger van/shop as they do now because given the choice many will continue to choose those options.

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 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to DaveHK:

>  kids would continue to vote with their feet and bugger off to chippy/burger van/shop as they do now 

I'm surprised any schools still allow kids off site at lunchtime, except sixth form. Pretty sure those that do are a small minority now. 

 DaveHK 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

> >  kids would continue to vote with their feet and bugger off to chippy/burger van/shop as they do now 

> I'm surprised any schools still allow kids off site at lunchtime, except sixth form. Pretty sure those that do are a small minority now. 

I teach in Scotland where it seems to be standard practice for secondary schools. I'm not aware of any that keep pupils on site although no doubt there are some.

Is it different in England then?

Post edited at 13:13
 DundeeDave 12 Oct 2022
In reply to DaveHK:

In Scotland we now have universal Free School Meals for stages P1-P5 and, also, nutritional guidelines for healthy eating in schools.

In the last survey (Feb 2022) only 63% of P1-P5 pupils were taking up this free school meal.

Could well be 'voting with their feet'.

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to DaveHK:

> Is it different in England then?

I can only speak from my experience, but I thought we were quite late stopping year 11 being allowed off site at lunchtime, in 2008. I might be wrong, but don't think any of United Learning's 50 or so secondary schools allow it and can't think of a school in Cumbria that does. 

In reply to Wainers44:

> But back where we started isn't back to slightly crappy school lunches which we were subjected to. 

I don't know how old you are, but I suspect 2 cans of Monster and a packet of crisps (which is really at the extreme end of things) is probably no worse than pink slime burger, chips and a can of fat Coke, which is the sort of junk that was on offer to us in the early to mid 90s.  It was cheapish, but the quality was the lowest of the low.  Once I was in the 6th form I tended to go for a walk and get a Sayer's* pasty instead, which was cheaper and while not *ideal* definitely better for me than that rubbish.

As to what my parents got or what was on offer at primary school, I produce better bulk food at Scout camp, and that's in a position of being seriously underequipped compared with a proper kitchen.  It was often because they were trying to do things that don't work well in bulk, to be fair - we need to be looking at stuff like curry, spag bol etc if doing it that way.

I agree with the idea of breakfast clubs, by the way, and a Continental cold buffet is quite easy to do and doesn't require kitchen facilities at all.

* Scouse equivalent of Greggs that never really made it big.

Post edited at 13:26
 DaveHK 12 Oct 2022
In reply to DundeeDave:

> In Scotland we now have universal Free School Meals for stages P1-P5 and, also, nutritional guidelines for healthy eating in schools.

You would think those nutritional guidelines would be a good thing but from what I've seen they have been a disaster for promoting healthy eating. 

The guidelines came out but there was no change to suppliers, training for canteen staff or even changes to the menu in some cases. I don't know if budgets increased but if they did it wasn't by much. Instead what happened is that the suppliers reformulated the same freezer to oven crap they'd provided for years to have less sodium or sugar or fat. So it meets the guidelines but it's still garbage. To illustrate this point, small cartons of fruit juice are no longer available as they have too much sugar. Instead they can buy a 'juice drink' made with artificial sweetners and flavourings that comes in a bottle labelled 'school meal compliant'

 henwardian 12 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

> I've slowly come to the conclusion that all kids should have free school meals. Something that is 100% nutritionally beneficial to them. It would also stop some kids feeling embarrassed that they are having free school meals. It could also be included in to their lessons and teach them what healthy eating is.

There is a lot to be said for this and I can find many reasons why, in theory at least, it is absolutely the way we should be going.

But

You knew there was going to be one, right?

The implementation will throw up a lot of unintended problems, for example:

- Kids bring junk food to school anyway and then take their free healthy soup or whatever and throw it at other kids or pour it down stairways or electric heaters or whatever else.

- There will be a lot of resistance from some of the parents if you try to implement this. "I won't have the school dictating what little jimmy can and cannot eat", etc.

- Trying to stop kids bringing junk food to school is a major undertaking and unless you are going to search every bag at the school gates, you will fail.... And even if you do, said kids will go down the shops during break and lunch and buy junk food. And if you don't enterprising kids will sell junk food to other kids.

- Children are merciless b******* and a certain percentage will bully and mock their peers for being on free school meals, that distinction does not vanish just because the meals are available to everyone and the fear of being tarnished with that brush will actually cause some of those who don't need free school meals to avoid these healthy alternatives precisely because they will be bullied for consuming them.

This isn't a thought experiment either. It's what I observed when working at a school that offered free healthy food to all their pupils.

It might be that you can overcome at least some of these problems in time by changing the culture surrounding school meals and junk food but you'd be taking on a _major_ battle that would need many years of hard work and effort from all adults involved to have a chance of success.

I would get behind it for sure though, the potential upsides make it worth the punt imo.

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> I don't know how old you are, but I suspect 2 cans of Monster and a packet of crisps (which is really at the extreme end of things)

I think that depends where you teach, I'd class it as a significant minority

>is probably no worse than pink slime burger, chips and a can of fat Coke

Perhaps, but the effect caffeine and e numbers have on kids ability to concentrate in lessons shouldn't be underestimated 

>which is the sort of junk that was on offer to us in the early to mid 90s.

Which sounds significantly worse that I had in the early '80's. You have Thatcher to thank for that 

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 Wainers44 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> I don't know how old you are, but I suspect 2 cans of Monster and a packet of crisps (which is really at the extreme end of things) is probably no worse than pink slime burger, chips and a can of fat Coke, which is the sort of junk that was on offer to us in the early to mid 90s.

> As to what my parents got or what was on offer at primary school, I produce better bulk food at Scout camp, and that's in a position of being seriously underequipped compared with a proper kitchen.  It was often because they were trying to do things that don't work well in bulk, to be fair - we need to be looking at stuff like curry, spag bol etc if doing it that way.

> I agree with the idea of breakfast clubs, by the way, and a Continental cold buffet is quite easy to do and doesn't require kitchen facilities at all.

Me? Way too old!! 

My kids mainly didn't do the school dinners bit for various reasons,  but the standard was better than you describe.  Mrs W worked 20 years in the village shop so was always sad to have sold the tins and crisps alternative to so many, every day.

Breakfast club is a great idea.

 Wainers44 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

>  I've been in about 20 schools in the last 12 months. IMO the quality is very good, my issue would be that they are quite expensive for kids nor eligible for FSM

> Schools providing cereal and toast, for breakfast, shouldn't be too expensive or difficult and would be a vast improvement on what you have described, which is normal for far to many kids 

Torally agree with you. Standards now are good and the breakfast thing is such an obvious positive step....but seems to confuse politicians for some odd reason. 

Free school dinners for all in state schools,  instead of tax cuts? Again, far too logical, simple and effective. 

JRM would never vote for that,  having seen his truly pompous performance on the beeb this morning 

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 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Wainers44:

> ....but seems to confuse politicians for some odd reason. 

The current bunch are probably ideologically opposed to it, but more generally it is the 20 year time span. Others have highlighted initial problems. Kids continuing to buy junk etc. It might be too late for some who have already developed poor habits, but we can prevent younger kids developing them. The year we stopped Year 11 being allowed off site created numerous problems, but these disappeared within a few years 

In reply to tew:

I feel like I'm gonna be in the minority here. But here's my opinion.

I went to a state secondary school until 2012 in a rural part of the country, and a lot of kids from very well off families went there. (It was a good school and there is not a private school that nearby, which probably contributed to that.) I think there is a better use of government money than paying for the school meals for rich family's kids.

There were also a lot of kids at the school who were on fsm, as it being the only school in the area meant you got people from a lot of different backgrounds. By all means expand who's eligable, make them easeir to claim, and have stuff like cards and vouchers to avoid the stigma. The articles linked in this thread show the government has got it pretty wrong with the threshold currently. But (and this is coming from the bias of my own experience) there are still a lot of people in the UK who are very well off, and the push to include everyone in free school meals just doesn't make much sense to me.

Touching on other points, we were never allowed out during lunch, and I don't know of any schools nearby that did. I also found the school meals were generally pretty nice and fairly healthy; mum gave me the option of simple homemade sandwiches or £2 for lunch every day and I always chose the latter.

If anyone is interested in what the actual rules are for what can be provided for scool lunches, rather than guessing or going off their memory from decades ago, here's the governemnt legislation for The Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1603/contents/made

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to jonzza:

> I think there is a better use of government money than paying for the school meals for rich family's kids.

Personally I'd be expecting those rich parents to be paying a bit more tax to fund it. 

>  The articles linked in this thread show the government has got it pretty wrong with the threshold currently.

Agreed

>But (and this is coming from the bias of my own experience) there are still a lot of people in the UK who are very well off, and the push to include everyone in free school meals just doesn't make much sense to me.

Although the problem surrounding poor nutrition is more prevalent amongst disadvantaged kids, it isn't exclusively. 

> Touching on other points, we were never allowed out during lunch, and I don't know of any schools nearby that did. I also found the school meals were generally pretty nice and fairly healthy

That's my current experience, in England, as well

>mum gave me the option of simple homemade sandwiches or £2 for lunch every day and I always chose the latter.

It's the kids who are given this option, but choose to spend the money on junk that need more guidance. 

In reply to RobAJones:

> It's the kids who are given this option, but choose to spend the money on junk that need more guidance. 

This can be avoided by the schools maintaining accounts and the parents loading those with money (or meal credits of some kind) instead of just handing over cash, so it can only be spent on food from the school.  I guess the general move away from cash encourages this anyway.  The further upside of this is that nobody can see, when you swipe your card or scan your barcode, if you're getting free meals or your parents have paid for them.

Some parents lack sense here anyway and always did.  My parents got me a season ticket for the train, but a lot of others were just given cash, so would fare-dodge and spend it on sweets.  Yet the latter cost considerably more.

Post edited at 15:28
 gethin_allen 12 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

As far as kids being embarrassed to have free meals. This is a simple issue to solve and can be solved in many ways. You could have a no cash card system where everyone uses the same cards but those eligible get a free credit at the start of the week, or you could have a simple all standard meals the same price and paid for up front at the beginning of the week so if you are eating in you get a meal without money ever changing hands in the canteen. This is how it worked in my school 30 years ago. 

As far as quality goes, you need to invest in staff as much as food. You won't get good staff if you offer people minimum wage limited hours contracts. Who can live on £9/hr 4hrs a day?

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

>   My parents got me a season ticket for the train, but a lot of others were just given cash, so would fare-dodge and spend it on sweets.  

The upside of schools moving to cashless systems are significant, and been outlined by you and other posters. This anecdote does highlight a flaw in some systems. We had to install a couple machines for kids to manually "load" their card with cash, due to some parents claiming to have no access to online banking. 

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to gethin_allen:

> As far as quality goes, you need to invest in staff as much as food. You won't get good staff if you offer people minimum wage limited hours contracts. Who can live on £9/hr 4hrs a day?

I'd expand that argument to include teaching assistants as well as kitchen staff 

In reply to RobAJones:

> The upside of schools moving to cashless systems are significant, and been outlined by you and other posters. This anecdote does highlight a flaw in some systems. We had to install a couple machines for kids to manually "load" their card with cash, due to some parents claiming to have no access to online banking. 

There seems to be an obvious gap here for the vendors of such systems to allow them to be "charged" for cash by the parent at PayPoint and Payzone stores, which largely deal with the issue of people who only deal in cash wanting to deal with companies who generally don't use it at all, and avoids the kid just spending it on Monster and crisps instead.

Post edited at 16:05
 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> There seems to be an obvious gap here for the vendors of such systems to allow them to be "charged" for cash by the parent at PayPoint and Payzone stores, which largely deal with the issue of people who only deal in cash wanting to deal with companies who generally don't use it at all, and avoids the kid just spending it on Monster and crisps instead.

True, but to some extent I'm also thinking of the kids who have parents who don't think there is any wrong with monster and crisps. OK they might still give the kids money to buy it, but the option of a free balanced meal for everyone seems like a good thing to me. 

In reply to RobAJones:

> True, but to some extent I'm also thinking of the kids who have parents who don't think there is any wrong with monster and crisps. OK they might still give the kids money to buy it, but the option of a free balanced meal for everyone seems like a good thing to me. 

To be honest I do lean this way as long as it is of proper quality.  That is, it should be better than I could come up with on a 2-ring gas stove under a Coleman shelter on a Scout camp in the tipping rain and blowing gale and using fairly budget-end ingredients - and my experience of school dinners was that it very much wasn't, it really was the cheapest of the cheap.

Post edited at 16:22
 jimtitt 12 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

Does the concept (or epithet) of "nanny state" no longer exist. You want one of Truss's friends to decide what your kids eat?

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 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> To be honest I do lean this way as long as it is of proper quality. 

Completely agree, my experience is that it is, although at times a bit expensive for those that have to pay 

>That is, it should be better than I could come up with on a 2-ring gas stove under a Coleman shelter on a Scout camp in the tipping rain and blowing gale and using fairly budget-end ingredients

I'm showing my age here, but I would regard that as cheating 😊. Wood fires only during my time and the scouts had to cook for themselves. 

>and my experience of school dinners was that it very much wasn't, it really was the cheapest of the cheap.

There was real decline in the late '80's early ' 90's. Something to do with deregulation and a drive for profit driving up standards?? To be fair to Jamie Oliver, he did, and continues to, make a difference 

 Ciro 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

> It's the kids who are given this option, but choose to spend the money on junk that need more guidance. 

Are you suggesting that 10 Regal King-size and a packet of custard creams wasn't a nutritional lunch?

 gethin_allen 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

> I'd expand that argument to include teaching assistants as well as kitchen staff 

Totally agree, I've been looking for work recently and as much as the pay being poor for teaching assistants the terms and conditions are horrendous with limited hours, restricted holidays, no pension. I've seen SEN teaching assistant jobs advertised for a flat £56 day.

 Ciro 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

> >  kids would continue to vote with their feet and bugger off to chippy/burger van/shop as they do now 

> I'm surprised any schools still allow kids off site at lunchtime, except sixth form. Pretty sure those that do are a small minority now. 

How are kids supposed to learn to navigate the real world if they are not allowed out into it?

6
In reply to Ciro:

> How are kids supposed to learn to navigate the real world if they are not allowed out into it?

They are allowed out into it, just not during the hours of 9am and 3:30pm roughly.  I'm sure they can cope.

 RobAJones 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Ciro:

> How are kids supposed to learn to navigate the real world if they are not allowed out into it?

I'm in favour of more kids walking/cycling to school, but many parents think it's too dangerous and exacerbate the problem by driving them. I also agree that the likes of our current chancellor would have benefitted from spending more time in the real world as a child. 

2
 Ciro 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> They are allowed out into it, just not during the hours of 9am and 3:30pm roughly.  I'm sure they can cope.

I'm sure they can... My question wasn't how they were supposed to cope though, it was how they are supposed to learn to navigate the world.

Unsupervised break times in town with classmates on high school were part of that learning process IMO, even if we did get up to no good.

3
In reply to Ciro:

> Unsupervised break times in town with classmates on high school were part of that learning process IMO, even if we did get up to no good.

And there's a key reason why it's not a good thing to do.  Hordes of schoolkids descending on a town centre at once with an hour to kill are a huge ASB problem if nothing else (before/after school is different as there's not actual time to kill then), plus that they won't buy healthy food, they'll get chips.

For me it was something to look forward to in sixth form.  I could see that you might extend that to Year 11 as a privilege of being "at the top" but not really below.

Post edited at 16:55
 Ciro 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

> I'm in favour of more kids walking/cycling to school, but many parents think it's too dangerous and exacerbate the problem by driving them. I also agree that the likes of our current chancellor would have benefitted from spending more time in the real world as a child. 

My partner's 7 yr old cycles to school with her mum... Neighbours with kids have offered a lift a few times, seemingly oblivious to the reasons the bikes are being used over the car.

 Ciro 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> And there's a key reason why it's not a good thing to do.  Hordes of schoolkids descending on a town centre at once with an hour to kill are a huge ASB problem if nothing else (before/after school is different as there's not actual time to kill then), plus that they won't buy healthy food, they'll get chips.

Why would we want to live in a sanitised world where kids didn't get up to a bit of anti-social behaviour now and again? 

In moderation, it's part of the learning experience, and if it gets out of hand, it just shows that we're failing as a society to provide adequate conditions for them to grow up in.

2
In reply to Ciro:

> Why would we want to live in a sanitised world where kids didn't get up to a bit of anti-social behaviour now and again? 

Wow.  Just wow.

I think we couldn't possibly be politically any more different if we tried.

ASB shouldn't ever be tolerated.  Never.  There's no need to engage in it, and plenty of kids don't.

Post edited at 17:13
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 Forest Dump 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

It's an essential part of growing up, surely? Even Teressa May ran in some other hunts corn

1
In reply to Forest Dump:

> It's an essential part of growing up, surely? Even Teressa May ran in some other hunts corn

There's ASB and there's ASB.  Kids sitting around in the park chatting loudly, or even smoking and drinking, is one thing (borderline if that even is ASB), but if you set 1000 teenage kids free for an hour in a small town centre it'll often escalate far further than that to the likes of theft, vandalism, littering and intimidation of other users of the area.

I'm not saying children should be seen and not heard or anything like that, but I do think they're best kept in at school over lunchtime until at least year 10-11 or so.  It's not them being out there that's the issue, it's them being out there *with nothing particular to do for an hour* and *in large numbers at once* that causes an issue.

Plus if they stay at school and a decent free meal is provided, they eat healthier rather than the Monster and crisps stuff.  If they have that on their way home, then that's their parents' problem to deal with.

In more sensible times the local beat copper might also see fit to be out at those times and drag any miscreants back to school by their earlobe to be issued with a detention, but sadly we no longer have that kind of policing.

Post edited at 22:15
 Forest Dump 12 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

I think we draw formative experiences from very different era's. I went to a decent but mixed comp in the 90s and even then it was only 6th formers that were allowed to venture out at lunch, which wasnt unusual for the area. We had to limit our ASB to truancy or the commute

Back to free school meals, I think it's a measure of civilised society that we provide ALL children with the nutrition sufficient to learn and prosper. Sadly that's not the country we live in. Too many miscreants in power thar could do with a clip a round the ear / a good kicking 

1
OP tew 12 Oct 2022
In reply to jimtitt:

I've never quite understood the issue people have with a nanny state. It seems to be brought up at the slightest suggestion of regulation. Seat belts - nanny state. No sugary sweets at the check out - nanny state. Smoking bad for you - nanny state

The state is there to do the big things to make people's lives better. Having worked in bars pre and post smoking ban I can state that was a brilliant idea and should have happened way sooner. Seat belts have saved countless lives. So providing a good healthy meal for kids at school seems like a hugely sensible idea. Giving them the right start to life. Just because some kids parents are poor and are unlucky in life or are fu#kwitts I don't see punishing the kids with starving as a good thing. It seems to be a falling of society 

1
 bouldery bits 12 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

>  I've been in about 20 schools in the last 12 months. IMO the quality is very good, my issue would be that they are quite expensive for kids nor eligible for FSM

Oh, Rob. You're not 'One of them' are you? 

I'm just reading this thread and enjoying the interesting views on how schools are apparently able to operate. 

 RobAJones 13 Oct 2022
In reply to bouldery bits:

> Oh, Rob. You're not 'One of them' are you? 

Definitely not, I can't still claim to be a proper teacher, but I like to think my visits are normally useful and constructive. 

 DaveHK 13 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

> I've never quite understood the issue people have with a nanny state.

It's like woke, PC gorn maaad  tokenism, cancel culture etc etc. People use these phrases to let them object to something without sounding like they're actually objecting because that would make them sound like a total prick.

You can't really object to kids getting a healthy meal without sounding like just such a prick but you can question the motives behind it in a vague way.

It's meaningless.

1
 Jenny C 13 Oct 2022
In reply to tew:

I was at school in the 80's/90s.

Hated school dinners at primary. Went home for lunch by choice, or took a packed lunch.

Secondary school only yr11 and 6th form were allowed off-site at lunchtime (and this was strictly enforced). Given the length of queues for lunch again I stuck with sandwiches so I got more free time, swapping over to occasional school dinners in 6th form when we were allowed to queue jump.

Mum already made sandwiches for dad and cooked a full meal each evening. I think this is an important point, kids not being fed properly at home need a reasonably high calorie (healthy) main at lunch, whilst those going home to a home cooked main meal only need a light (healthy) lunch. Forcing all kids into the same eating plan at school could therefore encourage children in some homes to overeat.

I think before school breakfast clubs are brilliant, not just for the less wealthy but also for working parents who don't have time to supervise a morning routine due to having to get themselves to work.

As for the stigma of being on free meals. It sounds like most schools are now cashless, so as others have said this could be automatically loaded onto cards by the school.

 bouldery bits 13 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

I knew I liked you!

 Ciro 13 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> There's ASB and there's ASB.  Kids sitting around in the park chatting loudly, or even smoking and drinking, is one thing (borderline if that even is ASB), but if you set 1000 teenage kids free for an hour in a small town centre it'll often escalate far further than that to the likes of theft, vandalism, littering and intimidation of other users of the area.

As I said, if that escalates out of hand I think it's a failure of society to provide a suitable environment for their growth, and we shouldn't be locking kids up at lunchtime to work around that we should be giving them something to do.

Build more free football pitches, skate parks, etc., and outdoor covered spaces with things to do in the rain.

> In more sensible times the local beat copper might also see fit to be out at those times and drag any miscreants back to school by their earlobe to be issued with a detention, but sadly we no longer have that kind of policing.

Ah, the old "It's a shame we can't physically abuse them when they misbehave" argument.

Corporal punishment never encouraged me or those around me to behave better, so I'm not sure why we would expect it to start working now - even if it wasn't morally reprehensible.

4
In reply to Ciro:

> As I said, if that escalates out of hand I think it's a failure of society to provide a suitable environment for their growth

Like, for instance, a school?

> and we shouldn't be locking kids up at lunchtime to work around that we should be giving them something to do.

School lunchtime IT, craft, sports clubs...

> Build more free football pitches, skate parks, etc., and outdoor covered spaces with things to do in the rain.

Yes, do those things, but not for lunchtime.  Though football can be played in the schoolyard.

And there are all of those things within 10 minutes' walk of my house anyway, on an average estate in an average town.  They're actually quite common.

> Ah, the old "It's a shame we can't physically abuse them when they misbehave" argument.

> Corporal punishment never encouraged me or those around me to behave better, so I'm not sure why we would expect it to start working now - even if it wasn't morally reprehensible.

It was a figure of speech (and I deliberately said detention, not clout with the cane!)

If I really need to be specific because a figure of speech is going to be turned on me, then here you go: "It is a shame we do not have sufficient beat police that schoolchildren engaging in antisocial behaviour cannot be put in a Police car and returned to school to be issued with a detention".

I find it most annoying when people excuse youth ASB when there are more options - far more - available to young people in 2022 than there were in say 1972, and yet far more ASB too.  It is an attitude problem to simply accept it rather than educating our young people in proper behaviour in public.  And lots of young people don't engage in ASB, which is conclusive proof that it is not an inalienable part of growing up.

"Let kids be kids" - yes, let them.  Stealing isn't being a kid.  Littering isn't.  Smoking and drinking aren't.  Intimidating and being gobby to the public isn't.  And so on.  Those things are the act of a thug, not the act of a kid, and they should not be tolerated.  Children need boundaries to grow up as good citizens.

Post edited at 16:42
1
 Siward 13 Oct 2022
In reply to henwardian:

I think universal free school meals deals with stigma issue and also avoids the expense of administering a means tested scheme.

There is, according to radio 4 anyway, evidence that FSM do improve learning, particularly after lunchtime. It may at present be largely anecdotal from teachers but its an obvious result of a decent meal. 

Also, when I was at school in the distant 80s we were not allowed off site at lunchtime as I recall and that was normal. .. 

 RobAJones 13 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> and yet far more ASB too.

Is that correct?

There are plenty of studies showing that peoples perception is that it is getting worse.

On the other hand the number of kids receiving cautions has halved in the last 12 years, but I accept Police cuts/different priorities could be the cause of that.

Is "joy riding" a thing anymore? I remember over the course of 8 months, every car in our road, had been taken for a spin, by local kids, at least once, in the mid 1990's 

In reply to RobAJones:

Joyriding isn't a thing any more because mandatory immobiliser fitment has made car theft nigh on impossible bar if you nick the keys or crane it onto a flatbed.

Post edited at 22:31
1
 RobAJones 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

So what antisocial behaviour has replaved  it, riding round on an electric scooter/bike? Smoking, alcohol consumption and tennage pregnancies are all a fraction of what they once were. With the number of CCTV cameras now  in town centres I think Ciro would now have far more difficulty developing his life skills, at lunchtime, without being caught 

In reply to tew:

Whilst I’m in favour of FSM for all (and better services funded via higher taxes), I’m not wholly convinced the system is that wrong in the first place. Reception, Y1 and Y2 already get FSM. And the amount of food primary children eat is  very small - they wolf a small portion of their food down so they can go out and play (according to my primary teacher wife). There is a massive issue on the low take up of FSM. And many children, especially older ones, are knowledgeable about nutrition, but still choose to eat shite. Many (most?) schools already operate a cashless system which reduces stigma.
Issues such as parenting skills (including (somehow) getting parents to cook nutritious food at home so their children choose it at school), exercise (I ate shite at school kid but was skinny as a rake).

Also, healthy eating etc is taught in schools. In her last school my wife did ‘Farmer Time’, live video link with a farmer chatting about food production etc. No other teachers did it though. 

Post edited at 08:31
In reply to gethin_allen:

I remember at school in the mid 80s, we used to queue up on a Monday morning and state our name then either hand over an envelope with cash for the weeks school dinners or state that we received free school meals. Even after 35 years or more I can remember which kids got free school meals.

In reply to RobAJones:

> So what antisocial behaviour has replaved  it, riding round on an electric scooter/bike? Smoking, alcohol consumption and tennage pregnancies are all a fraction of what they once were. With the number of CCTV cameras now  in town centres I think Ciro would now have far more difficulty developing his life skills, at lunchtime, without being caught 

CCTV does act as a very effective dissuader, but it isn't everywhere.

The ASB you get now is mostly petty theft and intimidation, which often does involves scooters/bikes but they aren't the root of it.  People have a right to feel safe in their town centre, and large gangs (word used deliberately) of aggressive schoolboys* are not conducive to that.

The solution is quite simple - provide quality, fresh, nutritious and attractive meals at lunchtime (not the burger and chips junk we got, but equally not the "concrete chips" and "soggy semolina" of my parents' generation and the rhyme I alluded to) and don't let kids out for lunch until at least Year 10, with that privilege being rescinded in the event of reports of ASB.  Plus lunchtime clubs etc for those who don't like kicking a ball round.

* The issue is almost never girls, notably.

Post edited at 09:22
 RobAJones 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

> Issues such as parenting skills (including (somehow) getting parents to cook nutritious food at home so their children choose it at school),

An Ed. Psych. friend of mine is interested family eating habits for a different reason but, out of interest, I always ask a new class how many meals they have sat down and eaten as a family. Top set in an affluent area might get a third to half saying they had 2-4 times a week but for many classes none of them will have

>exercise (I ate shite at school kid but was skinny as a rake).

I always attempted to get seconds at lunchtime and had a full evening meal, lack of physical activity is probably another thread. 

> Also, healthy eating etc is taught in schools.

Yep, I do find it a bit frustrating when people complain that x, y and z should be taught in schools, when they invariably are. 

>In her last school my wife did ‘Farmer Time’, live video link with a farmer chatting about food production etc

Must be different in the big smoke, round here schools have on site farms. 

 RobAJones 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> The ASB you get now is mostly petty theft and intimidation, which often does involves scooters/bikes but they aren't the root of it.  People have a right to feel safe in their town centre, and large gangs (word used deliberately) of aggressive schoolboys* are not conducive to that.

I agree, just think that things are much better than they were. When I was as school fights were a daily occurrence, at the start of my career weekly and by the end it would only be a handful each year. I'd also say gender wise it wasn't far off 50/50

> The solution is quite simple - provide quality, fresh, nutritious and attractive meals at lunchtime

No argument from me

>(not the burger and chips junk we got,

That would be a maasive improvement for a significant minority of kids

>and don't let kids out for lunch until at least Year 10, with that privilege being rescinded in the event of reports of ASB. 

I don't regret limiting it to sixth form. Seems different in Scotland, but that is pretty standard IME

>Plus lunchtime clubs etc for those who don't like kicking a ball round.

The other general change is schools making lunchtime shorter, the one I was in yesterday was only 30 minutes. It's fine for those kids who live locally, but after school clubs are problematic for kids who are bussed in. I think we dodged a bullet with Kemi Badenoch not being appointed education secretary. Her stance is that those type of actives, along with teaching assistants are superfluous to core educational need

> * The issue is almost never girls, notably.

Not in my experience, although it might be that breaking up girls fighting always caused me more concern than boys, so I remember it more vividly. 

Post edited at 10:19
In reply to RobAJones:

> Not in my experience, although it might be that breaking up girls fighting always caused me more concern than boys, so I remember it more vividly. 

Fights I can believe, I'm more thinking of ASB that adversely affects other users of the town centre, such as petty theft and wilfully intimidating the public.

 RobAJones 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> and wilfully intimidating the public.

I think that is probably correct, but am wary of my own experience not being typical. The chances of me being intimidated by a 16 year old girl or group of girls is pretty slim (one national kick boxing champion being the exception) a 16 year old lad or group with a steroid issues would be a different matter for me, but for many both groups will be intimidating. 

 gethin_allen 14 Oct 2022
In reply to The New NickB:

> I remember at school in the mid 80s, we used to queue up on a Monday morning and state our name then either hand over an envelope with cash for the weeks school dinners or state that we received free school meals. Even after 35 years or more I can remember which kids got free school meals.

In my school you would drop a small brown envelope off at the office, I've no idea who was on free meals or not.

 Ciro 14 Oct 2022
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Like, for instance, a school?

Can I refer you back to my original point about learning to navigate the outside world?

> School lunchtime IT, craft, sports clubs...

As above.

> Yes, do those things, but not for lunchtime.  Though football can be played in the schoolyard.

Even if most of the of the school playing fields hadn't been sold off, as above.

> It was a figure of speech (and I deliberately said detention, not clout with the cane!)

> If I really need to be specific because a figure of speech is going to be turned on me, then here you go: "It is a shame we do not have sufficient beat police that schoolchildren engaging in antisocial behaviour cannot be put in a Police car and returned to school to be issued with a detention".

I guess you're either quite young, or didn't know anyone who was taken home "by the earlobe" to understand what the figure of speech you used means then? What used to happen was they would rough you up a bit, to discourage you from behaving in a way that would get them called again. The more often they took you home "by the earlobe", the rougher that journey got.

> I find it most annoying when people excuse youth ASB when there are more options - far more - available to young people in 2022 than there were in say 1972, and yet far more ASB too.

Do you have any evidence to back up this assertion? We're you around in the 70s? In the last 20 odd years I've lived in various parts of London, Newcastle, and back in central Scotland, and in all of them I've seen a fraction of the anti-social behaviour my generation got up to in the 70s and 80s.

> It is an attitude problem to simply accept it rather than educating our young people in proper behaviour in public.  And lots of young people don't engage in ASB, which is conclusive proof that it is not an inalienable part of growing up.

I think it's an attitude problem to expect children to grow up without a few mishaps as they figure their way through the world. 

> "Let kids be kids" - yes, let them.  Stealing isn't being a kid.  Littering isn't.  Smoking and drinking aren't.  Intimidating and being gobby to the public isn't.  And so on.  Those things are the act of a thug, not the act of a kid, and they should not be tolerated.  Children need boundaries to grow up as good citizens.

I did lots of things I shouldn't as a teenager and grew up to be a "good citizen", and I'm sure there will be a good many on here who would tell you the same.

Children need boundaries but they also need outlets for anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, social exclusion, inequality, etc., etc.

If kids are acting out, understanding and looking for solutions to their problems will provide a much better long term solution for individuals and society than trying to lock them away out of sight and/or the police dragging them off the streets.

1
 Forest Dump 14 Oct 2022
In reply to RobAJones:

A group of agro girls is terryfing cos you know you can't hit em


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