Exmouth mum voices her anger at college

AN OUTRAGED mum claims some young pupils are having to eat their dinner out in the freezing cold because there is not enough dining space at an Exmouth school.

Alice Hill, of Penlee, Budleigh Salterton, was ‘fuming’ when her teenage daughter, a community college pupil, revealed last week that she has been subjected to eating her packed lunch outdoors.

The child minder said her daughter routinely struggled to find dining space in the school’s canteen because of long queues and the fact there were only seven tables to accommodate around 490 year nine children.

As an alternate eating area, Alice claimed the youngster, 13, and other pupils from her year group, could have lunch in wooden huts outside but they weren’t heated and failed to protect against the bitter wind.

“The thought of my daughter stood up in the cold eating her food makes me sick,” said Alice.

“I would like to see the teachers stand outside for 45 minutes and eat in the freezing cold!”

She added: “I don’t think many parents are aware of the problem because when children go home they rarely complain about what has happened at school that day.

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“But, parents need to be filled in on what’s going on. If Ofsted inspectors visited the school at the moment, you can bet they wouldn’t be happy with the situation.”

Alice, who claimed the school has also banned pupils from wearing bright-coloured warm ski jackets in spite of the recent weather, spoke to her daughter’s head of year about the apparent lack of dining space.

“She told me there were limited resources in place at the school and they did not have the facilities to accommodate 490 pupils in that year group to have their lunch.

“I then asked her why they did not open up some of their classrooms or the sports hall at lunchtimes as a place for children to eat.

“Her response was this is they way it has always been at the college. She then started an argument over the issue rather than coming up with a solution.

“In terms of the sports hall, I was told they can’t open it up because it is often used for extra-curricular activities at that time of day.”

As widespread snow covered large parts of Exmouth last week, Met Office officials said temperatures in Devon were the coldest recorded in the county in nearly two decades.

“The college has spent too much time trying to get across the right image for its pupils by imposing a strict uniform policy and not on addressing more important issues like this dining space problem,” said Alice.

Elizabeth Lee, chair of governors at Exmouth Community College, said: “Over the years the governors have provided a substantial sum of money for extra dining space.”

She said there were a number of designated catering spaces for year nines. They included in the drama hall, which is heated, and around the geography corridor.

Mrs Lee added the governors continued to look at ways they could improve catering accommodation.