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Bonkers Blog March 2011

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26 March (Part 2) - Carole’s battle with TfL and a heartless head teacher - click image for photo gallery (1 image)

Gaggle of councillorsCarole has not had too much trouble with the B11 bus this week. On Thursday there were no buggies on board but the front of the bus was crowded and she couldn’t get to the centre exit door. The female driver wasn’t very enthusiastic about being asked to open the front door for exit, but apart from that it was an easy week. TfL has written to Carole again explaining their policy on buggies which we have all heard before. There is no mention of her disability which was the whole point of the enquiry. TfL’s Customer Service Advisor, Duncan Fallon would appear to be one of a growing band of public servants who do not properly read the letters they answer. There has been no further word from councillor John Fuller and given the impact of Criminal Records Bureau checks on self-help groups there is probably not a lot he can do.

Also on Thursday there was a gaggle of councillors standing outside Bedonwell Infants School - no idea why - and in the centre of the group was head teacher Mrs. Brooks.

Following my month on the school run I can hardly believe the red-tape and petty bureaucracy that parents are asked to accept compared to 30 years ago. Teachers fail to think of the consequences of their actions and believe they have a right to micro-manage parents’ lives. Last week I learned that parents had been asked not to threaten children reluctant to go to school with any form of punishment when they got back home as it caused them to worry all day and distract them. This seems fair enough but when Carole’s son did something he shouldn’t have done in the playground on Wednesday he was sent home with a note that he would be punished next day. So a four year old spends the night worrying about what is to happen to him. Is head teacher Brooks a thoughtless bully? Possibly, but on Thursday she sanctioned action that I regard as gross abuse of a four year old. He was forbidden from eating his lunch and went home at the normal time having eaten nothing all day.

Carole would prefer her son to eat school meals but the school refuses to provide him with one because they say he is a fussy eater; so he has to take sandwiches. On Thursday his mother provided him with sandwiches containing a spread. It was banned on the grounds it may contain nuts and there was a possibility he might give the sandwich to a mythical friend who might suffer a fatal anaphylactic shock. Perhaps Mrs. Brooks should ban all sandwiches as a breadcrumb could prove very dangerous to a child suffering coeliac disease which is far more common than a serious peanut allergy. There can be no excuse for starving a four year old; it takes a special sort of cruel monster to do that to a child.

As it happens Carole is a food industry professional; she is licensed by Bexley council to prepare food in her own kitchen and sell it commercially. She has all the necessary food safety certificates and qualifications and when it comes to food she knows her stuff. As such the spread she puts in her son’s sandwiches is guaranteed nut free, not just “recipe contains no nuts but may contain nut traces”. It’s nut free. Carole is particularly aware of the dangers of nuts, she regularly caters for a client with nut allergies. It’s not as though the school has any excuse for making a four year old go hungry, they have been told before that his lunch box is guaranteed nut free, but like TfL they either don’t care or are too stupid to understand. I think Mrs. Brooks’ heartless attitude to a hungry young boy is unforgiveable.


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