Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
Image of Hilary Wilce

The Quandary - 07 Nov 2008

My primary school children get only twenty five minutes for lunch and no time to play. What I can do?

Hillary's Advice

This seems unbelievably short for a break in the middle of the day. Most primary schools have at least 45 minutes or an hour so that their pupils get fresh air and exercise as well as lunch. Yet you say your school has no interest in changing its timetable.

Surely, with such a short break, other parents beside you are up in arms? Talk to as many of them as you can and see what their feelings are. If they havenít thought about it Ė and itís amazing how many parents drop their children off at school in the morning and have no interest in what happens afterwards Ė explain why you think this break is too short, and that you are hoping to put pressure on the school to change.

Do your research. Last year a study from Roehampton University showed that children are more likely to eat well at lunchtime when they are not rushed and can talk with their friends. The Education Secretary wants pupils to eat of china plates to enjoy the experience of proper eating, and lots of studies show that when children get active play at lunchtime their afternoon lessons go better.

Talk to your Parent Teacher Association, and to the parent governors, and to the head. And, if necessary, take the issue up to the Diocesan board of education, since this is a voluntary aided primary school. This does not sound like a policy framed with pupilsí best interest in mind.