back to article Scottish council muzzles 9-year-old school dinner photo blogger

A Scottish council has been accused of crushing free speech by banning a nine year old girl from blogging about her school dinners. School Dinner by Glasgow blogger Veg, credit Martha Payne, used with permission Lunch at a primary school in Scotland: The first photo on the NeverSeconds blogpost that prompted a national media …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lesson in big business

    There's a lesson in business for you Martha. You don't fix the problem, you silence the grass.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: A lesson in big business ^H^H^H the Streisand effect

      The "lesson" isn't finished yet and it may be Argyle and Bute council who get detention.

      What are they going to do if she carries on blogging? They can lean on the school to introduce a school rule banning cameras, presumably with some pathetic child protection rationale, but the picture is out now and if she wants to carry on writing words in her own spare time then I can't see any way they can stop her that isn't a criminal offence.

      1. g e

        I for one...

        Hope she damn well keeps it up

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: A lesson in big business ^H^H^H the Streisand effect

        Several hours have passed. The BBC are now reporting that the council have backed down and are happy for her to continue taking pictures.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: A lesson in big business

      As other's have said, the lesson isn't over yet. She had 2m visitors before the ban. How many hundreds of millions of new visitors will this ban generate. I hadn't head of it before today.

      I've posted a comment on her blog suggesting that she gets round the ban by drawing pictures of the food, or by getting a friend who is good at art to do it for her. Other people have suggested the same thing.

    3. The BigYin

      Re: A lesson in big business

      Here's a lesson on the Internet: Streisand effect. I wonder if A&B council is prepared for the amount of butt-hurt that is going to come their way.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it no wonder we're so poor at sticking up for our rights in this country?

    It seems that kids are taught to be conformist and not rock the boat when they're young. Not to mention believing in the Easter Bunny and God.

    1. DapaBlue

      At school I was bawled and shouted at by the head of IT at school (who was going red in the face) for 'ripping pins out of a VGA cable' whilst using it on a machine. He wasn't interested in hearing my excuse that some of the pins were designed to be missing on VGA cables... but on the upside, we had another teacher who was brilliant, got me involved in IT buying decisions and went on to inspire Apple's Jonathan Ive from his time at the same school.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Why were you removing the pins from the VGA cable? If he didn't know they weren't needed, you can kind of see his point - kid physically taking apart hardware, not usually a brilliant situation in a school

        1. JimmyPage

          Re: um

          the way I read it, the teacher was accusing the OP of damaging the cable, *because* there were pins missing.

        2. RayG

          Kids today...

          You've not seen a vga cable right?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Kids today...

            Ah, my bad, I'm with you now about the cable and missing pins. Not enough coffee today, apparently.

  3. Anomynous Coward

    9 year old?

    Very well written.

    Did her parents help?

    Where can I send the money for this kitchen they, I mean she wants?

    Bless th her gree little bas heart.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 9 year old?

      Just because you can't write that well even as an adult....

    2. Alan Bourke

      Re: 9 year old?


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 9 year old?

      I was thinking "bloody hell! her English puts a lot of adults to shame", but that was more of a sad indictment on the literacy of most commentards (elsewhere mostly).

    4. Daniel Hutty

      Re: 9 year old?

      AC seems to have assumed the kitchen she was raising money for was for her parents.

      I suggest friend AC reads the article, in future - the lassie in question was raising money for a charity called "Mary's Meals"

      Google is your friend. That, and reading the article.

      1. Anomynous Coward

        Re: 9 year old?

        "AC seems to have assumed the kitchen she was raising money for was for her parents."

        I did assume (to the extent that I gave it any thought at all) it was for a business. Must have missed the final few lines of the article.

        How cynical I have become.

        So apologies for that, I clearly ought to have written "What clever publicity raising." (I hope all the outraged amongst you donated to the charity).

        Still, assuming all of my cynicism was misplaced then at least the school is performing considerably better at English teaching than it is at PR.

        1. Anomynous Coward

          Than the council is at PR, that should have been.

    5. Hardcastle the ancient

      @AC 10:04

      The fundrasing half of her efforts is at:

      I am pleased to see it is now at £13,700

      1. Hardcastle the ancient
        Thumb Up

        Re: @AC 10:04

        ... and is now at aroung £15,500

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have some compulsory leave coming up.

    Anyone want to grab a pitch-fork and/or burning torch for a little march on the council chambers and the vile monsters they contain?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have some compulsory leave coming up.

      Its tempting to join in!

      I thought school dinners were bad at my kids school, but that is horrendous!

      My kids school actively promote what they serve kids, almost every parents evening or similar has a sample of food available, and to me its always bland canteen food, but then again I have been spoiled by quality food available for lunch in London...

    2. david 63

      Re: I have some compulsory leave coming up.

      I think a sacking - in the viking sense of the word - is the correct response. Whose doing the driving?

      1. david 63

        Re: I have some compulsory leave coming up.

        Who's. I know it's who's.

      2. PatientOne

        Re: I have some compulsory leave coming up.

        To use the old meanings for the terms:

        Sacking (to give the person a sack containing their tools for their trade and sent on their way) is possibly not the right punishment.

        Firing (to take said sack of tools and burn them to ash so the person is unable to work at their trade) might be more suitable.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the swill that's served at council HQ in Lochgilphead, I expect these school dinners seem quite normal to council staff.

  6. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Public Servants

    The clue is in the title. I believe the wee lassie's father still pays their wages.

  7. CaptainHook

    Don't say goodbye, start drawing the meals instead.

  8. Nev Silver badge

    Utter Disgrace...

    .. that a school meal in Scotland should consist of such paltry fare.

    Where's the deep-fried Mars bar!?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Utter Disgrace...

      Never mind that where's the pizza crunch?

      (Pizza dipped in batter then deep fried, makes me ill just thinking about it)

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Utter Disgrace...

      Deep fried mars bars are about as easy to find in Scotland as frogs legs are in Paris. Everyone says they know someone who has seen one, but nobody actually has seen one themselves.

      1. DaveyDaveDave

        Re: Utter Disgrace...

        Umm. I can name at least two fish and chip shops in the city centre of Edinburgh that sell them. I speak from experience having bought one myself, and inflicted another upon friends.

        It was delicious, but one is enough for any lifetime...

      2. pPPPP

        Re: Utter Disgrace...

        The place 2 minutes from my flat in Edinburgh did them (I left there a while ago). They would deep fry pretty much anything. We were tempted to ask them to do hundreds and thousands but never did.

        Everything that chippie did was revolting though. Mostly catered for late night drunks.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utter Disgrace...

        They do exist....

        The chippie close to Glasgow station sold deep fried Mars bars. Yes I saw it, no I didn't buy it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utter Disgrace...

        Being from Scotland and travelling all over the UK, I have to say that the first time I saw a deep fried Marsbar was in Bedfordshire.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Utter Disgrace...

        Deep Fried Marrs Barrs are reasonably successful in Australia.....

        They are OK if one is:

        a) Starving; or

        b) In desperate need of a sugar hit.

        But aside from that.....

        They are all right, if there was absolutely nothing else to eat, and I was really hungy - I'd be OK with knocking down 2 or 3 or 4 of them.....

        But I'd much rather have a GOOD (non McDonalds) Hamburger with the lot - meat, cheese, egg, bacon, tomato, lettuce, salt, pepper, sauce, beetroot, Chillie.... ANY DAY!

    3. auburnman

      Re: Utter Disgrace...

      Being offered on the menu is not that common, but knowing someone who works in a chippy helps. Couple of pro tips: Battered Creme Egg GOOD, Battered Aero EXPLOSIVE.

  9. g e

    Alternate headline?

    Food-fail school retaliates with spiteful ban against nine year old

    In fact I think I'll share it just like that.

    1. EyeCU

      Re: Alternate headline?

      But it isn't the school, they have been quite supportive. This has come from the local council

      1. g e

        Re: Alternate headline?

        Edited. I obviously still have issues with an old headmaster ;o)

  10. vagabondo


    I was expecting something like:

    Girl Geek Dinner young lady

    when I heard about this story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Headline?

      "Dinner be blogging any more missy!"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great example of "The Streisand Effect" whereby many times more people now know about what they have been up to.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I see that the chef has been reading the "How To Use 100% Carbohydrate Meals To Induce Obesity And Diabetes In Juveniles Cookbook".


    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Cookbook.

      You're not taking account of the trans fats in the pizza.

  13. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Food terrorism must be prevented at all costs

    This is what the new RIPA on drugs act announced yesterday will help to prevent - young would-be terrorists endangering school catering industry and the council officials' jobs. Thankfully, the MI5 will now easily track down every school food terrorist child if they try to circumvent the ban on posting pictures of their food.

  14. Mad Mike

    Nice to see a 9-year old outsmart the council. Instead of just ignoring it, or even supporting it and thereby ensuring not much publicity, it's now a national news story. Way to go dimwits. I'm not surprised that people who can't even produce decent food for school children think the appropriate answer is simply to silence the perp rather than up their own game.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not just national

      WIRED have written an article on it (, it's made the front page of Reddit...

      People are complaining to the council regarding their behaviour:

      1. Winkypop Silver badge

        Re: Not just national

        Ooops, their contact form seems to be as fried as that food.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >desultory croquettes

    Shurley that should be "desultory croquette" as they only appear to get one of them..

    I used to love school dinners, especially the puddings. Lovely big wodges served from huge steel tins. We couldn't go for seconds unless the entire table had cleaned up so food was swapped liberally, great team building exercise.

    On another note. How can there be an obesity crisis if that's all the get nowadays? Pitiful.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Quantity

      There is an obesity crisis because the school dinners aren't sufficient to fill the kids up, so they supplement it with crisps and chocolate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quantity @jonathanb

        Take your point but don't think we still didn't pig out on crisps and chocolate as well.

        I suspect the difference is that we had a three mile walk to school and then the three miles back. No school run but then paedophiles didn't exist in my day. <-- Note: for those of who only see what they read, sarcastic comment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quantity

        Which the school probably gets a kick-back from the vending machines.

  16. sugerbear

    Excellent Work by the Council

    By doing what they have done (censoring the young lady in question) they have managed to highlight the fact they give shitty food to the children and they are not prepared to serve (at least not in food terms unless it processed and full of sugar and salt) the people they are elected by.

    Well done. You really couldn't have done any more to publicise the blog or the poor service you provide (save for taking out a front page advert on the google home and asking Mr Murdoch to highlght her plight in all his daily rag) than you have already.

    Bute and Argyll Council - There to serve the needs of its voters (or itself). I salute you.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Excellent Work by the Council

      They haven't censored her. They've told here she can't take photos in a private building, she can still blog.

      El Reg readers are generally pretty critical of kids being allowed to take phones/gadgets into school IIRC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Excellent Work by the Council

        It isn't a private building, it's a public building paid for and maintained by tax payer money

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Excellent Work by the Council

          Just try walking in a school declaiming "this is a public building and I have a right to be here!" and see how long it is before the Boys in Blue turn up.

          1. EyeCU

            Re: Excellent Work by the Council

            She does have a right to be there, she is one of the students. This isn't just someone wandering in off the street

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Excellent Work by the Council

              I was referring to the notion of it being a public building in that that term generally means free access to all.

              As opposed to a publicly-funded building (there were some PFI schools weren't there).

              As to what she can and can't do at school that should be down to the head-teacher - in so far as the governors let them.

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Excellent Work by the Council

        What a stupid thing to say. It's a council run school not a private building and more importantly not allowing her to photograph the meals they feed her is censorship. Her blog used to have pictures of the shit food, now she's not allowed to post them.

        Or was that irony?

      3. Turtle

        @JDX: Re: Excellent Work by the Council

        "Re: Excellent Work by the Council

        They haven't censored her. They've told here she can't take photos in a private building, she can still blog. El Reg readers are generally pretty critical of kids being allowed to take phones/gadgets into school IIRC."

        Consider her a whistleblower.

      4. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Excellent Work by the Council

        The powers that be are quite happy to have millions of cctv cameras everywhere to watch over us.

        Why are they so concerned when we deploy a few of our cameras to watch over them?

  17. Pinkerton

    And a big round of applause...

    ...For the rocket scientists at Argyll and Bute Council who must be the only people on the planet too out of touch to have foreseen exactly how this decision would turn out.

    Well done Argyll & Bute. Very well done indeed. Worth every penny of your council tax.

    ...And no, it doesn't matter whether it's a real nine year-old girl, her father pretending to be her, pernicious hippies or whoever: The council stuck a bloody great big luminous flag in it saying Lookie Here!

  18. LinkOfHyrule
    Thumb Up

    I think she should continue reviewing the meals - she puts that food critic bloke to shame - you know the one, he's got a stupid name and he's probably really fat too.

  19. Tony S
    Big Brother

    Calm down..

    I saw the blog several weeks ago, and thought that she had a valid point to make; still not entirely sure how much she wrote and much was her parents, but even so, well worth reading.

    However, I also suspected that it wouldn't be long before the minions of orthodoxy made their play and put a stop to it. The problem is that whatever the LEA did, they were onto a hiding.

    Preventing creative thought in a youngster = ungood

    Stifling free speech = plusungood

    Being seen trying to hide what garbage is served up to youngsters = doubleplusungood

    For the council, it is a PR nightmare, made worse by current allegation about their "Communications Staff" (2012021377)

    A lot of people are jumping up and down in outrage (possibly for quite valid reasons) but sometimes it might be worth taking a deep breath and then thinking about the bigger picture before overly outraged. No doubt there are those that will have seen the photo of her on her blog and would be outraged about the council allowing that.

    I hope that "Veg" (Martha) decides to continue to write about the food she is being served, and just leaves off the pictures to comply with the council diktat. She has the opportunity to bring about some useful discussion and perhaps to influence a change for the better.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Calm down..

      >> The problem is that whatever the LEA did, they were onto a hiding. <<

      Whatever they did? They could serve decent meals, not sure that would have reflected that badly on them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Calm down..

        higher quality meals wold probably cost more to produce, the resulting difference has to then be passed onto the parents.

        If the cost is too much then the parents go to providing packed lunches (which may be even less balanced nutritionally) and income for school meals goes down while production and distribution costs remain.

        Its a sparelsy distrubuted population - and nearly 20% live on islands - so there's not much room for savings of centralisation of supply.

        No, don't think they were onto a winner with school meals from any angle.

      2. Tony S
        Big Brother

        Re: Calm down..

        Really? And admit that they responded because of a campaign by a 9 year old? = doubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubledoubleplusungood

        No council would ever want to put themselves in that position, whatever the rights or wrongs. Remember that these people do not see the world in the same way as you and I

    2. Wize

      Re: Calm down..

      I want the ban lifted on the photographing of the meals. After all, there will be parents who want to see what their child is eating and should have that right.

      And I want the photographing to continue. The only way they should stop is when they become less interesting due to them being both healthy and tasty.

      Perhaps we need a site, like trip advisor, where school meals can be rated.

      Dammed if I want to send my child to a place that treats them like crap either by lack of teaching skills or by feeding them shit.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Argyll & Bute - fail

    As a council tax payer in Argyll & Bute I think I will write to them and complain. If enough people do, maybe we can re-enforce the message that in a democracy they behave how we want them to.

    1. lawndart

      Re: Argyll & Bute - fail

      Trouble is, in this modern "professional-political-class" world, writing to them to remind them we are (supposedly) a democracy would probably be construed as a threat, and you would end up on the terrorist watch list.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    did these compartmentalised plates come from?

    We had old chipped things that I suspect were nicked off an old Sealink ferry.

    Our school handed out toast, gathered back up what wasn't eaten, and handed it back out the next day. We knew that, 'cos we used to write the date on the crust.

    1. JimmyPage

      Re: Where

      We had those in the 70s

    2. WorkingFromHome

      Re: Where

      Quite. They seem to have become the standard in most schools these days. When I was at school in the 70/80's your food was served on a plate, like a civilized meal should be. You wouldn't think much of a restaurant or cafe which served your food like this so why do it at school?

      Maybe I'm getting old and grumpy but these things look like something from a prison, you can't treat kids like items on a production line and then complain when they don't learn how to behave.

      Like I say, I'm getting old...

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Where

        Civilised people might appreciate a single plate where all the different foods can mix, but *children* quite often will not touch X (even if they like it) if a few molecules of Y have touched it, so I imagine the silly plates are to address that problem.

  22. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    I don't know what I'm disgusted in more...

    Is it the astoundingly bad 'cuisine' at the school? Not only somewhat minimalist, but looks disgusting - and as a long-serving IT grunt, I eat some nasty stuff.

    Or perhaps it's the blatant attempt to stifle any attempt at whistle blowing or even this kid's freedom of expression? It's a typical public sector mentality (not unique to this council or LEA) that everyone else is wrong except them and then to attempt to stifle any dissent or discussion from the public.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I don't know what I'm disgusted in more...

      Get of the 'freedom of speech/expression' high-horse. It's not valid unless they ban her writing altogether.

      1. NukEvil

        Re: I don't know what I'm disgusted in more...


        You are so hopelessly wrong, no amount of convincing you otherwise will be enough to repair the intellectual damage your idiotic comment has caused. Everyone who has read your comment and/or downvoted it is now at greater risk of epilepsy and/or brain cancer. I wish a license--only obtainable via an IQ test, which you must pass by scoring a potential IQ of 60 or above--was required before being allowed to operate a computer with an internet connection. I also wish idiots could be sued to oblivion for daring to post such drivel in a place where so many other impressionable minds will inevitably be exposed to it. That's the only form of pointless litigation I would support in the U.S.

        Haven't you heard the expression that goes something like "pictures are worth a thousand words"? Just what the hell do you think blogging is?

  23. The BigYin


    Public participation in "democracy" is not permitted in the UK. Plus ca change!

    So much for Cameron's "Big Society" because this is exactly the kind of thing the UK needs (Veg's blog, not the block or Cameron's empty pontifications). Still, having a 9 year-old showing you up as collection of money-pinching, selfish buggers has got to be a bit embarrassing.

    A&B council is not unique - various councils up and down the UK do whatever they can to stifle any dissent or criticism.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the kids should start photographing their meals and posting them. We (the taxpayers) are paying for this - name and shame. What she has done has already improved them - so why are they stopping her now?

    She's only photographing the food goddamit.

  25. ukgnome


    How can you ban her from taking a photo?

    I guess the old - no mobile devices in school could be used, however no laws have been broken and no persons have been defamed in the taking of photo's.

    With all the leveson enquiry shenanigans it's nice to see a young journalist been enterprising and making some cash for the charity. As well as making people smile.

    As for that charity, which will now surely lose out a bit, I do hopr the council are going to now put some cash in its coffers. Although I doubt it.

  26. earl grey

    butthead council

    No, we're NOT douchebags. really. seriously.

    take our word for it...

  27. ukgnome

    I have just raised a complaint with the council - and encourage all to do the same.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ,fi? Smart choice

    .fi = food's inedible.

  29. Crisp

    Kids today!

    With their legitimate blogs with interesting stories.

    If Martha had been blogging about anything else and had got her picture in the papers, you can guarantee that the Head would have capitalised on the publicity.

    If I was in charge of El Reg I would be offering her a job. Lunch Register anyone? :)

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: Kids today!

      Good God man, you want to feed a nine-year-old girl the kind of things journalists eat?

      Technology journalists no less.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A council much like my local one.

    Where everyone is expected to do more with less! I thought it only applied to more work with less staff, but more study with less food is equally relevant.

    In particular I like the "Prison Issue" plastic plate, why not issue the kids with a spork and be done with it, good preparation for a future life of crime.

  31. Rampant Spaniel

    That dinner is pathetic, I remember school dinners in the 80's were more of a large scale home style food affair. Spag bol, fish pie etc. My cat eats better than that heap of crap.

    I hope whomever made this girl feel like she had done something wrong is taught a serious lesson. Waterboardin in a vat of camels ass sweat would be a good start.

    'Silencing' a 9 year old girl is an outright admission of wrong doing in the first place. Secondly the poor kid has been made to feel like she has done something wrong when she was simply telling the truth and trying to raise some money for charity. If the council don't want to appear like fools, don't act like fools.

    I bet the food in their canteen is considerably better than a 'pizza' which probably doesn't even have real cheese on it, a scabby fishfinger, a few kernels of sweetcorn and a cupcake (probably bought enmasse with a 15 year shelflife rather than baked inhouse). I feel sorry for the dinner ladies as well, it isn't their fault they have to dole out this dross.

    I hope some civil servant winnet on the arse of society is bricking it right now waiting to see the boss to explain why they are getting so much bad press. One pack of tesco value fish fingers says he gets the 9yr old blamed again.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Having read her blog, they are croquets not fish fingers :-) (its also head mistress not headmaster). What seems sad is that they can and do make half decent meals sometimes, just infrequently. 2 pounds (sorry us keyboard) is a lot to pay for that meal. I know staffing costs are expensive but that is cutting too far.

      I think in the 80's it was about 70-80p but you got 3 courses and milk. God forbid you didn't eat your veg or the dinner ladies had their eye on you and you didn't get pizza on a Wednesday for a month! It was very pink floyd, how can ye have any puddin if ye have nae ettin ye meat laddie etc.

      It looks like one young lady has managed to get a lot of change implemented and hopefully more to come. Nice of Jaimie Oliver to send her a book with a message Itas well!

      It's just a shame the headmistress didn't stand up for the kid and tell the council to go stuff themselves.

      1. Hardcastle the ancient

        >It's just a shame the headmistress didn't stand up for the kid

        >and tell the council to go stuff themselves.

        I rather thought that. I think the Dad has been extremely measured about the whole thing.

  32. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Council says No

    Children should be encouraged to use technology whether it be programming, hammering nails into stuff or using software. Its all part of the learning process, we want everyone to learn but when they put it into practice they should be guided not just have someone throw their toys out of their pram.

    Blogging to me looks like something that puts English skills into use (I could have done with some of that with my appalling grammar and spelling).

  33. gaz 7

    Council statement is here

    Comes across as rather lame. Were catering staff seriously worried they would lose their jobs because a 9 year old writes a blog reporting what she ate that day? it hasnt made me think they made the right decision

    1. Crisp

      Re: Council statement is here

      "Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs"

      I'd fear for my job too if I was producing meals of the quality depicted in the article.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Council statement is here

        Some oxygen wasting deskwarmer somewhere went on a weekend junket to Thailand. Somewhere between the ladyboys and obscure drinks in a coconut (named for the devil apparently) the aforemention uncivil servant was taught how to click on the ms excel icon. From then on there was a downward spiral, spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations cannot possibly lie, it says so on wikipedia. Many presentations later, extoling the virtues of outsourcing and the nutritional value of pet food, we have kids being served that crap.

        Napkin maths shows I spend maybe 9-10 dollars a week on packed lunches. A flask of milk, yoghurt, fruit salad (half from the garden, half locally grown) and then either something like locally caught ahi sushi or a chicken or turkey sandwich. Teachers monitor the kids, fruit juice (the sugary junk kind) is banned and don't even think about soda or crisps etc. We make so much fuss about how butter is bad for you etc yet I know plenty of healthy 80-90yr old farmers who eat everything you shouldn't (2 fryup breakfasts a day, lots of roast dinners etc) yet apparently its better to sit on your arse and eat I can't believe its not recycled condoms.

        JO showed that for only a few extra pence per meal per day, and with the help of the dinner staff you can deliver much better quality food. Maybe if the council spent less on pr they would have more money for services and less need for pr.

      2. Alan J. Wylie

        Re: Council statement is here

        > "national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs"

        I predict the Council is now going to be deluged with Freedom of Information requests

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They may ban her from taking photos...

    ...but can they ban her friends from taking the pictures for her?

    1. Lee Dowling

      Re: They may ban her from taking photos...

      They certainly can't ban her drawing a picture of the meal like she's sometimes done when the camera wasn't available. And I think at this point, anything she doesn't post will be filled in with the reader's imagination which, given the state of some of those dinners, can only be worse than the reality.

      The council have done themselves no favours here. They picked a weak target and instead of some encouragement, some hand-waving and then burying the whole affair they have managed to make an international news issue of it.

      You know what, if the truth is JUST THAT BAD, maybe you should fix the truth and apply for more funding (what a perfect time for the local council to say it needs more funding if it's to provide better school meals!), rather than try to silence those taking an accurate photograph of what they were served.

      Why is it that the student's are doing more than the teachers / heads / council nowadays to get things improving? I'm beginning to think the idea of a "free school", an example of which exists somewhere up north as an independent school where all rules and changes are decided by student panel, might be the right idea in that case. Hell, it's not long ago that the whole "schoolboy in a skirt" thing took to the news over similarly ludicrous school rules.

  35. Winkypop Silver badge

    Council jobsworths Versus a bright young mind.

    I see they are steadfastly crushing spirit and vim at a younger and younger age these days.

    In my day, at least they waited until near the end of high school.

  36. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    I don't know about the situation in this particular area, but the contracting out of school meals has had much the same effect as the contracting out of school and hospital cleaning staff. The whole thing gets done to the lowest possible legal standard so the most profit can be extracted for the company with the contract. Clueless power hungry middle managers work everything out on a spreadsheet and micro-manage the skilled and qualified staff on the front line.

    You could fix the whole thing by employing a decent head cook, giving them a budget, encouraging them to shop locally, and sacking off all the professional leeches surrounding the whole process.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Read the second last post on her blog about the cookery school. Same cost for the meal but better quality. Not just about milking for profit, but about a lack of care. Though I suppose uncaring grunts cost less that someone with an ounce of empathy and some skill.

    2. EyeCU


      Have a look at what the Hairy Bikers did for meals on wheels. They proved decent home made food for the same cost with just a bit of effort.

  37. Tom 7 Silver badge

    A campaign of FOI requests

    for nutritional information especially of pictures of meals that our tax goes to paying should loosen them up a bit.

    Fight bureaucrats with bureaucracy - its the only thing they respect.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: A campaign of FOI requests

      Tom, you are a genius, great idea!

  38. Return To Sender
    Thumb Up

    Sound of Council in high-speed retreat...

    Just heard an interview on World at One; council leader chappie has said he's told the minions to withdraw the ban immediately. Methinks some reactionary twonk in the council's about to get a kicking for this!

  39. Climbing Kid


    U-turn announced on Radio 4 world at one by the council.

    Good news!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: U-Turn!

      Just beat me to it.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Breaking news

    BBC News channel have just reported the ban on her blog has been lifted.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    as it was fucking unenforceable anyway...I'm more annoyed that her dad didn't have the cojones to tell them where they can stick their "ban".

  42. Dangermouse 1

    What's particularly great about this story is that in the last 24 hours, the donations to "Mary's Meals" on Martha's justgiving page have gone from £2000 to £26,900. In fact it went up by a few hundred quid in the time it took me to type this!

  43. AndGregor

    fire them all !

    Just the fact that an official acting on 'our behalf' deems it ok to attempt to, in their eyes, silence a 9 year old really pisses me off. Jobs and contracts, I.e. the person weak enough to be pressured into this action (the job) by the contractor forcing the 'food' onto an unsuspecting child or children, our children ! All should be fired immediately with no chance of providing a pathetic excuse. I want to see heads rolling into a deep fat fryer, mars bar in ear optional.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: fire them all !

      That is one of the things that galls me the most about these scenarios. They never learn their lesson and they always escape any form of punishment. Right now they are patting themselves on the back about how well they managed the situation (that they created) and working out how it justifies a pay rise.

      If I screwed up like that I would be sacked, hell I would resign if I ever had a head teacher go and tell a kid who was doing nothing more than telling the truth that she was doing something wrong. I know truth is a very flexible term to a politard, but it makes me sick that some kid was told off by someone she should respect on the orders of some coward of an uncivil servant, without the balls to do it themselves, for doing something we tell kids they have to do.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She can blog on her own time

    There is no God given right to blog in school at lunch.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: She can blog on her own time

      Did you actually read any of the stories before rushing to jab at the anonymous muppet button? She didn't blog during her school dinners. She took a picture of her food and when she got home she then wrote her blog (assuming it wasn't her father writing it).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: She can blog on her own time

        Are you clueless? She must have a really good camera to take a picture of the food at school from her home...

  45. Cheshire Cat

    Gone viral...

    Seems to have gone viral; donations now over ukp80,000 and rising.

    Of course the idiot who set the policy to silence criticisms like this will get off scott free, as usual. However, the council now look even stupider than usual.

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