Pupils at a new school are only allowed to eat vegetarian lunches and are banned from bringing in their own food.
The policies at The Swan School in Summertown, Oxford, were criticised by a parent, who said her daughter ‘came home hungry’ after the academy opened on Monday.
The Oxford state school has a completely vegetarian canteen and pupils have no alternative but to eat the hot meal on offer, although there are a couple of meat or fish options available for snacks during break time.
A mother who did not want to be named said: ‘The only thing about this school is the vegetarian food – my daughter came home today very hungry.
‘I’ve heard that a lot of children were very hungry as well – there should be option at dinner time [to] eat meat, I’ve never known a school to be like this.’
Pupils at The Swan School in Summertown, Oxford, have an all-vegetarian school meal policy. Dishes on the menu include lentil lasagne, similar to pictured above, where teachers and pupils are encouraged to eat together (file image)
Options on the Swan School’s menu include lentil lasagne, minted pea and feta frittata and Quorn sausage and potato bake.
Headteacher Kay Wood said the main reasons to serve vegetarian meals is to serve better quality for the same money, reduce carbon footprint and allow students of all faiths to sit together
Parents were made aware of the vegetarian policy prior to admission and the menu is believed to be a first for an Oxford state school.
Headteacher Kay Wood said: ‘We have chosen to serve vegetarian meals at lunchtimes for three main reasons.
‘Firstly, it allows us to serve better quality meals for the same money. Secondly, there are huge environmental and sustainability benefits.
‘Most importantly, it allows students of all faiths and different dietary requirements to eat together.’
She stressed the decision to provide vegetarian meals ‘isn’t a judgement of people who eat meat or an attempt to make our students vegetarian.’
Ms Wood added: ‘Packed lunches are not banned because the students might bring in meat – we don’t allow them because we want all the children and staff to eat together and engage at lunchtime.
‘Everyone is working really hard to make sure the food is delicious and nutritious.
‘It goes without saying that we are committed to making sure students are not hungry – we offer free breakfast every day for all students.’
Quorn sausages are on the Oxford state school menu in a bid to improve the quality of school meals at the same price (file image)
Pupils can get free porridge in the morning and can buy healthy snacks at break time, but they are not allowed to bring in any other food.
The new school’s website states: ‘Everyone is encouraged to engage in conversation and take responsibility for different aspects of the service, for example laying the table, serving food, or tidying the table at the end of the meal.
‘Each lunch service is guided by a senior member of staff who leads a daily ‘reflection’ and weekly ‘gratitudes’ where students express thanks for what others have done for them during the week.’
Artist’s impression of The Swan School in Oxford. The school is currently at a temporary site and is moving to Marston Ferry Road next summer (pictured) , which is currently under construction
Last week a law came into force in France, making all schools serve at least one vegetarian meal per week, while all New York City state schools have introduced ‘meatless Mondays’ this academic year.
In 2013 a school in New York, Public School 244, gained international coverage for becoming the first vegetarian state school in the USA.
Opposing academic research has been published recently about the health impact of vegan and vegetarian diets.
Headteacher Kay Wood at the site of The Swan School at Marston Ferry Road will teach 1,260 pupils
The Swan School opened its doors to 100 pupils at a temporary site next to The Cherwell School’s South Site, Oxford.
It plans to move to a permanent building further along Marston Ferry Road next summer, which is currently under construction, and will teach 1,260 pupils at full capacity.