Readers’ letters - October 6

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Teachers should not interfere with food

Re: Staff inspecting pupils’ packed lunches at a school in Yorkshire.

Is education changing direction by staff worrying too much about what pupils eat rather than what they learn in school?

What a parent provides for their offspring is their responsibility and not the school. If the child is happy eating food provided by a parent or guardian, they should be allowed to enjoy this and then concentrate on their studies instead of being embroiled in nonsense by overzealous staff searching food boxes.

Teachers should not interfere as they are there to dictate on educational matters, not on food intake by pupils.

That is not their role and never has been. If schools wish to provide food then fine, but that would then raise the question, will the pupil want to eat what the school offers?

The answer might well be a resounding no. It is not for schools to dictate eating policies but to ensure those in their charge are happy, and if that means children are eating what they enjoy, agreed and provided by their parent(s), then teachers should stop interfering and get on with what they are paid to do – teach.

Happy children make for good scholars and should not be centre stage for stand-off situations between parents and teachers.

Whilst teachers might wish to offer suggestions regarding healthy eating, they have no right to search or seize items of food from a pupil (albeit temporarily).

To do so is an insult to the integrity of the parent.

It is ridiculous, unnecessary and an infringement of privacy for school staff to search the baggage of a pupil unless the search is in relation to items considered to be a danger to others or involving a crime, but certainly not food.

Governing bodies, including school staff, are over-stepping the mark by such actions.

School staff should concentrate on teaching, not searching for crisps.

Shaun Kavanagh

via email


Keep guards – keep trains safe

During the current strikes on Arriva Northern trains, the company is handing out leaflets to passengers at stations saying, “Modernising your train journey means making changes to how we support our customers, including the conductor’s role.”

The truth is no one is opposed to modernisation – indeed RMT Union members have been on the front line when it has come to campaigning for new trains, more trains and more seats – but these strikes are all about safety.

RMT wants a guarantee that a safety critical and operationally trained guard will be on all trains in passenger service – that’s the current arrangement.

Arriva Northern trains and the Tory Government want to scrap that guarantee.

The strikes are not about wages, terms and conditions or pensions, the strikes are all about safety.

At the moment, guards are trained and qualified in some 30 plus operational and safety roles, including train evacuations, dealing with fires on trains, train failures, signalling systems, overhead power line isolations, even routes.

In the event that a driver is incapacitated or trapped in an incident, guards can step in to protect the train and the passengers, but Northern doesn’t want to give the guarantee of a guard on every train. Indeed, they have accepted a franchise specification from the Tory Government that says at least 50 per cent of services can be operated under DCO the new name for Driver Only Operation.

At the moment on Northern it is zero per cent!

Guards don’t just carry out a key safety role. At a time of increased recorded crime and anti-social behaviour, they provide vital reassurance to passengers and, with ongoing security issues, it seems utter madness to want to take these staff off trains.

There are also accessibility issues because the GUARANTEE of a guard ensures people with disabilities and mobility impairments can access trains.

Indeed, Northern is suggesting that, on some routes, they are planning to have no second member of staff on board to look after passengers at all. How is that “modernising” or “improving” customer service?

The company claims that, by changing the guards’ vital safety role, they will be more visible to passengers on trains. The reality is that, on many trains, they will become invisible as they won’t be there at all. Keep guards on trains – Keep trains SAFE.

Craig Johnston

Relief Regional Organiser (North)


A fiasco in Manchester

I read the letter from Warren Bennett with incredulity, expecting to see that his address was somewhere on Mars (LP Letters, October 4).

He writes he was “impressed and reassured” by Theresa May’s speech in Florence. Really? These sentiments were not in evidence at this week’s party conference in Manchester.

What was on show was the governing party of this country, faced with the massive task of making a Brexit deal that will not damage the British economy or British jobs, say nothing specific about these questions at all.

There was nothing about the future rights of citizens and nothing about solving the Irish border question in a way acceptable to both Ireland and the EU.

There was nothing at all about the most explosive question – UK payments to the EU as Brexit takes effect. From the Cabinet downward, the Tory party is divided on these issues which were never discussed on the conference floor. What the Tories provided in Manchester was a fiasco and an exhibition of political bankruptcy.

John Prance



Chocolate keeps on shrinking

Not contented enough with co-presenting Masterchef on the BBC, Gregg Wallace decides to take a grand tour of a well known chocolate factory in the UK. He was shown all kinds of chocolate being made. Then he was shown how they get the goodies inside of Easter Eggs.

However, what he wasn’t shown was how the manufacturers cynically shrink their chocolate goodies in order to maximise their own profits.

Darryl Ashton