UK & World News
Girl's School Meal Photo Ban Overturned
A council has overturned a ban which prevented a nine-year-old girl from posting pictures of her school dinners on a blog.
Martha Payne started the NeverSeconds blog six weeks ago, posting images and opinions about what she had been served for lunch at her school's cafeteria in Lochgilphead, Argyll.
She gave a score out of 10, a "health rating" and even the number of hairs found in each meal.
Martha's efforts won the support of celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn.
But on Thursday Argyll and Bute Council said it had stopped her taking photos because media attention had resulted in catering staff fearing for their jobs.
But on Friday, following a social media backlash against the ban, the local authority changed its mind.
In a statement, leader of the council Roddy McCuish confirmed the ban would be lifted, adding: "There is no place for censorship in this council and never will be whilst I am leader.
"We need to find a united way forward so I am going to bring together our catering staff, the pupils, councillors and council officials to ensure that the council continues to provide healthy, nutritious and attractive school meals."
On Thursday night Martha posted a goodbye message, which said: "This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my headteacher and taken to her office.
"I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.
"I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I'll miss seeing the dinners you send me too."
Jamie Oliver led the public backlash against the council's ban.
"Stay strong Martha," he wrote on Twitter, and urged his followers to spread the message.
A council spokesman originally defended the decision, saying it had to protect staff from the "distress and harm" the blog's "unwarranted attacks" was causing.
As well as reviewing school lunches, Martha also used the site to raise money for Mary's Meals, a charity which runs school feeding projects in deprived communities around the world.
She had feared the ban would stop her from reaching her £7,000 fundraising target for the charity.
But as a result of the ensuing publicity - and her blog trending on Twitter - the amount of money raised on Martha's JustGiving page has soared from £2,000 to more than £24,000.
what do you think?
Come on Orange, keep up. The council have just in the past hour changed their mind on this and will allow the child to continue to blog with pictures. Mind you banning the blog was a pretty daft thing for them to do in the first place.
Schools seem very eager to use threats to damage children's education or threats of legal action to silence criticism these days. Gone are the times when a parent could complain without having the fear of retribution from the council. From my personal experience schools are now places where you do what you are told, pay them to attend compulsory school plays and never dare complain or suffer the consequences.
"Distress and harm" and "unwarranted attacks"? Interesting. It seems the blog only stated an individual's opinion of what had been served. Martha is perfectly within her rights to express her opinions in such an objective manner - and even went so far to back them up with actual fact (i.e. pictures). These are NOT unwarranted attacks. As for Distress and Harm - exactly how unhealthy are these meals? Seems like the kids are more at risk of Distress and Harm! Well done Martha - keep up the good work.
Dave, I think you are being unfair on schools in general. You may well have your personal experiences, but, in MY experience, schools need to do a lot more to protect their staff from violent parents, violent and uncontrollable children, ludicrous litigation threats, and a range of other risks that have been caused by namby-pamby do-gooders. This was a case of overreaction by the council, responding to a perfectly innocent blog by Martha, that, unfortunately, attracted some nasty comments that DID need to be removed. Well done to the council for realising that it had overreacted, and having the sense and nerve to backtrack, and admit it was wrong.
Well said Keith!
I think Keith has it right but just an additional point: photography in schools has to be strictly controlled to prevent social network bullying. Such restriction is already applied to adults in some schools for fear of possible paedophile purposes.
I bet they wouldnt have changed their minds if Jamie Oliver wasnt involved...
Martha, you know adults are always right - not! Well done. It's the small things that must win in the end. Councils think they are more than they are, they all must remember that they should play to the tune of the people who put them there. Keep up the good work.
Agree intirely Andy. They are just beaurocrats, paid for by us rate-payers (?)! They need to pander to our requests not their whims and fancies! We pay for them not the other way round!
I would just like to say, if I might, concerning the comment appertaining to photography in schools, I think that's gone a bit daft, too because: during news bulletins on the television, very often all the school kids are blurred but the adults aren't, then on another TV channel the school children aren't blurred. That kind of behaviour seems childish itself. Now I think of it, the internet is full of school kids posting videos of their school meals, anyway, all around the World. I think the important point is, what did she have for dinner today and what did she think of it? We used to have chocolate sponge pudding and custard in army schools overseas also cooked by people with Scottish accents. I used to take peanut butter sandwiches, lemon curd sandwiches or salmon paste and cucumber sandwiches. Plus a packet of crisps and can of cola? I bet if that image up there was on TV it would be blurred.
I think this young lady will go far!
Do you. i dont. glad headmaster stopped her. pleased about her charity work though
If the cooks at the school are serving well-prepared meals (ingredients can only be of a certain standard because of pitiful fu.nding) then they should not suffer any "distress" or "harm" when pictures of them surface. Re. the comments about photographing pupils, at our school all pupils are photographed in Year 7 if their parents want them to be, then they can buy copies. Parents then have the option to refuse to allow the use of any photographs in publications or our website. Very few do, but some have to if, for example, the family is living in a refuge, and we oblige. (I wasn't allowed to post, "fund.ing"! Why?!)
I've noticed myself, if I try to write the word, fund.ing then the accepting program seems to not allow the first three characters. I don't know if it is or is not acceptable to say, "'nuf said"? A lot of people say that. The program which bans words, sometimes I don't understand.
A council spokesman originally defended the decision, saying it had to protect staff from the "distress and harm" the blog's "unwarranted attacks" was causing. But the attacks WERE warranted. Hair(s) in the food? Where are the public health officials who inspect restaurants or even the Health & Safety? The staff OUGHT to fear for their jobs if this is the best they can do.
Amazing! Glad her chosen charity has soared to £24K (it was £11k at lunch time today)! About time that the councillors started understanding that we pay their wages and therefore they should be looking after us, and ours, before worrying about some percieved harm to their personality!
Please visit her blog before commenting. There are NO pictures of kids, purely 'food'. And to be blunt, if I were her I would be taking sandwiches!