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MIDDLESBROUGH schools say their pupils prefer to stay in for dinners than go out for junk food, despite a survey placing the town as one of the worst places nationally for the number of fast food outlets near secondary schools.

Statistics from the School Food Trust show there are 38 junk food outlets for every secondary school in the area, compared with a national average of 23.

The School Food Trust has called for children to be kept on school grounds at lunchtimes to keep them away from takeaways and sweet shops.

But most schools in Middlesbrough say pupils are kept on site, unless they have parental permission to leave.

At one school, pupils in Years 10 and 11 can leave the site, but the head teacher said the majority opted for a school dinner.

At Hall Garth Community Arts College, in Acklam, pupils stay on site unless their parents write and tell the school they can leave.

Pupils said they liked to stay because of the choice of food and lunchtime activities.

The school also has social areas where pupils can meet.

Farah Hussain, 15, gets a pass which allows her to get her lunch early to do drama.

And Chantelle Harding, 15, said: "I like to go for cold food because it's quick and easy and I can sit in the social area with my friends."

Liam Sullivan, 15, said: "I like the variety and choice. You can get samosas, fish, potatoes and cold food."

Abbey Henderson, 14, said: "When the weather is cold you can have something hot, but when it is warm you can have something cold and sit outside."

Fellow pupil Adeel Ali said: "I like to have pizza or I go for the healthier options."

Takeaways and a garage selling sweets and crisps are a 15-minute walk away, but the pupils are not tempted to leave.

"There is much to do and so many activities such as football and table tennis on different days and you have to walk for 15 minutes to get to the shop," said Farah. Abbey said it was "really expensive" to get a meal there.

Steven Taylor, head teacher at Hall Garth, believes his school canteen could be the best in the world.

He said: "Our policy is students stay on site unless we have requests or permission from parents and most of them follow that policy.

"Our canteen is the best I've ever seen in a school and that is an encouragement for them to stay in school. …


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