School introduces chocolate ban

A CHOCOLATE bar tucked into lunchboxes has been a favourite for generations of schoolchildren.But as the healthy eating bandwagon, championed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, gathers pace, one primary school has moved to end the time-honoured tradition.

A CHOCOLATE bar tucked into lunchboxes has been a favourite for generations of schoolchildren.

But as the healthy eating bandwagon, championed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, gathers pace, one primary school has moved to end the time-honoured tradition.

Pupils at the Stanley Drapkin Primary School in Steeple Bumpstead, near Haverhill, have been “encouraged” to remove chocolate bars and sweets from their lunchboxes for four days a week. In their place they are being urged to take healthy cereal bars, fruit salads and pumpkin seeds.

Although school chiefs were quick to play down any talk of a complete ban on sugary snacks, the move has led to some criticism among parents at the 220-pupils school.

One father, who did not want to be named, said: “We have been asked not to give our children chocolate during the week and give them something like fruit or a cereal bar.

“But some cereal bars have as much sugar as a bar of chocolate. I think it is down to the parents what they feed their children - it is not up to the school.”

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But headteacher Mary Nicholls defended the initiative. She said it was the brainchild of the school council, made up of pupils from each class.

Mrs Nicholls said: “We thought we should encourage healthier eating during playtime.

“We are asking children to bring something instead of chocolate between Monday and Thursday. It is not a complete ban but we feel everything should be in moderation - so Friday will be treat day where they can bring in chocolate or sweets.

“We are just trying to discourage them from eating chocolate all the time. We want pupils to see there is a healthy option but we don't want to seem heavy-handed and we won't be confiscating chocolate if we find it on them.”

She added: “We already have an intermediate award for healthy eating and we are now working towards the advanced award.

“We reopened the school kitchen in September, employing a new cook and producing primarily homemade food.

Stephen Castle, member for education with Essex County Council, said: “The governing bodies of schools in Essex are free to develop their own policies with regard to school meals.

“Our healthy schools team is always available to discuss dietary and nutritional issues with individual schools. We would not issue specific advice with regard to a restriction on chocolate, but we could certainly act as a liaison between Government and any school which might consider such a policy.”

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