A SOUTHAMPTON school has banned pupils from eating crisps.

Students who flout the ban are having their snacks confiscated in line with the new policy at The Sholing Technology College.

The crackdown was introduced at the start of term but has outraged pupils and parents who say teachers have no right to police what their children eat.

According to parents their children have had crisps taken away and told they would have to go home for lunch if they wanted to eat them.

But the school has said the ban, which also extends to fizzy drinks, has had a positive effect on students.

Head teacher Martin Brown, who took up the post in September, warned parents and pupils about the ban in a newsletter before Christmas.

He wrote: “We also need to recognise the impact of certain food types on our students and their ability to be mentally prepared for learning. As a result from the New Year students will not be allowed to consume any sugar-based fizzy drinks (e.g. Coke and energy drinks) or crisps on the school site.”

However a leading nutritionist has questioned whether a ban is the right approach to promote healthy eating in schools.

In a statement to the Daily Echo, Mr Brown said the ban was introduced in response to a growing number of children who were bringing large bags of crisps into school.

He added: “It was brought to our attention by both students and staff, at the end of last year, that a large number of students were coming into school and eating large bags of crisps, or similar, for their main meal. We wrote to parents and informed them that we would introduce a temporary crisp ban.”

However, Mr Brown told the Daily Echo the ban would be reviewed with the school council within the next two weeks.

“We know that the majority of our parents support the school on this matter,” he added.

Mum Leah Caws said she was outraged when her son Harry told her that his packet of onion rings had been taken away.

Harry, 13, told her that a teacher had taken them away from him but when he protested he was able to eat them in a pastoral care room away from other students.

Leah, a support worker, said: “Harry is very particular about what he eats and he doesn’t have that much so it really is a wrap, bag of crisps and a chocolate bar in his lunch box. “When I spoke to them the school told me that I could put an extra wrap in or another chocolate bar, which doesn’t make any sense to me if they are promoting healthy eating.”

The 34-year-old mum of two added: “These are teenagers, however much we tell them that junk food is not the best choice they make their own decisions. It is not up to the school to make that for them. I think they are going beyond what the responsibilities of a school are by confiscating food from students.”

She added that Harry had been told he could have a lunch pass so that he could go home to eat his crisps. “It would take him half an hour to get home as it is so I said I would have to meet him outside and let him eat the crisps in my car before going back it, which is a ridiculous thing to have to do.”

Nutrition

ANNEMARIE Aburrow has been a nutritionist and dietician since 2005 and is based in Southampton.

She said that children who have a balanced diet and healthy weight are proven to perform better at school and that limiting fizzy drinks and other high sugar foods and drinks would have an impact on the behaviour of children.

However, she questioned whether an outright ban was the best way to achieve that.

“I would always say a collaborative approach is the best way to achieve that aim. You have to properly communicate with parents and students and provide training and support, a flat ban just sets up people to retaliate.”

Annemarie said schools were being encouraged to ensure youngsters made healthy choices with many opting to ban some foods, but that those with high sugar content rather than crisps that were simply “empty calories” would be what should be targeted.

“Sugar or sweeteners and caffeine found in fizzy drinks and diet drinks are really what would have the most impact, particularly on children. They increase heart rate and can cause hyperactivity, that along with caffeine can have a real effect on young people and their ability to learn. Some of the effects of additives in energy drinks haven’t even been properly researched on young people.”