Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Thunderous Whisper That Can Help Keep Control; LES WALTON Runs through the Teacher's Armoury That Can Quell the Noisiest School Dinner Hall

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Thunderous Whisper That Can Help Keep Control; LES WALTON Runs through the Teacher's Armoury That Can Quell the Noisiest School Dinner Hall

Article excerpt

Byline: LES WALTON

ABIG issue over the next academic year will be free meals for school pupils.

From this month all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils in statefunded schools are automatically entitled to a free school meal.

The politicians are presently arguing about whether there are suffi-cient funds to provide the meals and the impact the new requirement will have on the attainment and daily educational routine of children.

Leaving aside the financial implications of this new measure it has always been my view that school lunchtimes are a critical part of a child's education.

In my second year of teaching I received a promotion point. One of my responsibilities was to organise the handing out of school milk at break times. Later I described this as the forerunner of 'pasteurised care'.

Each day bottles of milk were delivered to the school. All the 'big lads' in year 4 (year ten today) would meet me, guzzle a couple of bottles and then hand out the milk.

This served two purposes. The 'big lads' were well occupied at break and the health of the nation was safeguarded.

'Dinner time' was an important event. The pupils filed silently into the mobile classroom which served as a dining room. The meals had been previously delivered from the central kitchen.

In my previous school I had the responsibility to march the children from the school to the central kitchen, which served a number of schools in the area, and then march them back again.

The meals consisted of the classic first course of meat and dumplings, followed by either semolina or chocolate cake with pink custard - Roly Poly Pudding or Spotted Dick were reserved for special occasions.

We would then say grace before the meal. The Selkirk Grace by Robert Burns "Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit." In 1966 I took up my first teaching post in a secondary school. My induction was thorough to say the least, including 'dinner duty training'.

It was clear from the first day, that whilst I would have absolute freedom with regard to designing my own curriculum within a broad framework, there were clear rules on how I and the children should behave.

The 'senior mistress' - now there's an interesting title - would never direct me on WHAT I should teach; nevertheless each morning she came into my classroom and measured the paragraph indentations of my pupils' stories. If they were more or less than quarter of an inch I was in big trouble.The senior maths teacher, who would follow the natural progression route of becoming a primary headteacher within a couple of years, was my dinner duty trainer.

At the beginning of lunch he simply stood in the middle of the mobile classroom that was the dining hall and glowered, staring at one child in particular. …

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