I laughed when it made the news in the Good ‘ol USA. And when Oteha Valley primary school in New Zealand started doing the same thing, I was surprised. The Kiwis are known for a no-nonsense approach that I admire. But when the same baloney was introduced in West Lothian, I despaired.
I am talking about the ban on pupils taking a cake into school on their birthday. Why the ban? Because according to the jobsworths in the education department, it breaches new antiobesity legislation.
This all started when the 2008 Schools Health Promotion and Nutrition Scotland Act came into force, banning sweets and fizzy drinks from school canteens. But, as usual, the weirdy-beardy blokes – and I am including the females, too – have taken things too far with a policy that bans little kids sharing their birthday treat with their chums.
How small minded can you get, I ask. About as small as the morsel you would get from a cake cut into thirty portions, I answer.
It’s even been reported that one school in West Lothian actually let a kid celebrate their birthday by covering an (empty) sweet tin with crepe paper and using Blu-tac to hold the candles in place. Still, I suppose this must have satisfied the education department’s understanding of the letter and spirit of the legislation.
But hang on. According to the Scottish Government, “…the legislation was not intended to ban the consumption of cakes and confectionery on special occasions.”
And Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, described the situation as “utterly ridiculous”.
He’s not wrong there. Meanwhile, Nick Seaton from the Campaign for Real Education, said: “…surely some sort of common sense should prevail when it comes to the occasional birthday cake.” You would think so, Nick. Wouldn’t you?
Even Marina Saunders, from a leading children’s fitness organisation, described the ban as excessive. Now Adam Ingram, the Minister for Children, is going to clarify the issue to local authorities.
But some teachers are already trying to save face by claiming that another reason for not distributing morsels of birthday cake is that some children are allergic to some of the ingredients. Well, make sure they don’t get any, then! But because some unfortunate is allergic to butter-icing, that’s no reason to ban the celebrations for everybody else. Not unless you are a bumptious numpty, of course.
When even the politicians think things have gone too far, we have to question just who is making these dippy decisions. The answer? Over-zealous chumps in the education department.