Strife was on the menu at St Andrews RC High School last week, along with a side-serving of misunderstanding and a dash of youthful outrage.
The school had implemented a trial ‘monitoring’ period in a bid to prevent littering in new ‘social areas’ that had been created where pupils could hang out and have lunch, with staff keeping an eye on what was being bought outside and brought into school.
However, taking the new monitoring to mean a ban on consuming food purchased outside, the youngsters were in “uproar” according to one pupil, who started an online petition calling for an end to the ban.
“For the most part, students prefer to purchase their own food as opposed to being restricted to the cafeteria’s limited menu choices,” wrote Daniel Mcgrogan in his petition, which attracted just under 300 signatures.
“This new rule has caused an uproar within the student population, leading to increased tensions and even direct conflicts between students and dinner ladies, which have led to a tense atmosphere within the school community.”
He questioned why students who purchased food from external retailers were being segregated and no longer welcome in the lunch hall.
However, headteacher Patrick Callaghan said there seemed to have been a misunderstanding about the changes being made in the school to open up more social spaces where pupils could meet and eat lunch or just hang out during break and at lunchtime.
“There was a concern that opening these areas could lead to an increase in littering within the school so we decided to have a trial period where the Senior Leadership Team monitored the food being purchased outside and brought into school,” Mr Callaghan said. “Since the implementation of the change no member of the Senior Leadership Team has banned any pupil from bringing food purchased outside into the school.”
He added: “Pupils can continue to bring in food from outside of school as long as it is consumed in the appropriate areas of the school and that no mess is left.”
To ensure no further misunderstanding the matter was being raised at all year group assemblies this week.