PARENTS have reacted with shock and anger to plans to shorten lunch breaks by 15 minutes at Isambard School.
The pupils were told about the change on Monday while the parents were all sent a letter the following day.
Not only are parents concerned about the time their children will have to eat lunch but also the reasons being given for the move.
The school told parents the change – from a one-hour break to 45 minutes – was to enhance learning, but the parents claim children were told it was a punishment for poor behaviour.
Isambard has denied this and says the reduction in break time is being brought in as a trial, allowing them to extend the last lesson of the day, with the break still being longer than in other schools.
Amanda Wilkins, 36, of Redhouse, whose 12-year-old son Angelos attends Isambard, said: “All the kids have been told it is punishment for playing games outside, which to me would seem a good thing.
“All the parents have been told it is that it’s to enhance the classroom experience. I think the school needs to clarify exactly what it is. They don’t have a great reputation for serving meals quickly anyway, with some children having to wait 15 minutes at a time.
“How are they meant to eat, socialise and have the run out they need in that time?”
Wendy Smart, 37, whose sons James and Charlie go to the school, said: “There is a lot of outrage among the parents because we are being told different things.
“Children need time to eat their food, chat with friends and run around.
“Adults get an hour break so I do not see why the children should not as well.”
The school have said no consultation was carried out because it is a trial process.
Headteacher Rachael Mattey said: “Isambard Community School’s top priorities are the education and wellbeing of our students. This change to the lunch break is being trialed to assess whether the extra 15 minutes that this would enable us to add onto the last lesson of the day will improve students’ learning and levels of engagement across the afternoon. There will be no change to the start or end times of the day.
“We understand parents’ concerns that this reduces the time students have to eat, socialise and take part in extra-curricular activities, which are all important aspects of the school day.
“However we have looked at this in detail and believe that lunches can be served in this time and that enrichment activities can continue as normal.
“The length of our lunch break will also be brought closer in line with other schools across Swindon, in fact still ensuring our pupils enjoy one of the longest breaks in the borough.
“This is, however, a trial for the coming term.
“Only if we see that the changes are beneficial to our students will this become a permanent amendment to the timetable.”