Is it OK to ban everyone’s peanut butter sandwiches because one child has a nut allergy? That was the question one vexed mum asked The Sunday Times earlier this month. 200 parents at her child’s school were being asked to do just this. Was this fair or reasonable?
No, replied Chris Woodhead, the Sunday Times’s education columnist, it wasn’t reasonable at all. “The motives are good but, like you, I think the result is nonsensical. The rights of more than 200 children to eat the lunch their parents want them to eat should not be sacrificed because of the risk to one pupil” opined Chris.
Cue a deluge of angry letters, like the one from Jenny Savage, who as a child had to eat her lunch with childminders because of her peanut allergy. Ms Savage wrote to tell Chris she “went from being a pretty sociable little girl to feeling like an outcast — all because of the rights of others to bring in their peanut butter sandwiches”.
So Chris apologised – sparking another flood of letters the following week – all, this time, supporting his original view.
So who’s right?
Are schools right to tell parents they cannot provide their children with packed lunches that contain nuts in order to protect children who suffer from nut allergies?