FAQs – Break & Lunches

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Q1. Is there staff supervision in the school playground prior to 8.50am?

A1. There is limited staff supervision in the playground from 8.40am. The official start of the school day is at 8.50am and parents retain responsibility for their child until that time, even though the child may be in the school playground. However, we understand that many children, especially in the older classes, will not be supervised by their parents prior to 8.50am and in the event of any problem arising, staff would certainly react appropriately when it was brought to their attention. On wet or very cold days children should arrive at school for 8.50am. Children should not be in the playground more than 10 to 15 minutes before school starts

Q2. Can the school toilets be accessed before the morning bell?

A2. Yes. Although the internal doors to the school will remain closed until school begins, upper school children have access to the toilets in the playground and early years children can come to the main office with an adult before the morning bell

Q3. Why is lunch time longer for P1 and P2?

A3. Lunch time begins for P1 and P2 at 12.10 when they go to eat lunch. Afterwards, they go to the playground and have supervised free time until 1.15pm. Some parents have commented that they consider this to be too long for the children, yet many others feel that having 45 minutes to play with friends in the middle of the day is a very positive opportunity. The key reason for the lunch period being longer than for the P3 – P7 classes, for whom lunch runs from 12.30p.m. until 1.15pm, is to ensure convenient pick up arrangements at the end of the day for parents. The length of the school week varies for different age groups with P1 and P2 working 22.5 hours and P3 – P7 working 25 hours. If the P1/P2 lunch hour was to be shortened, then the children would have to be dismissed earlier each day. As an example, shortening the lunch break by 20 minutes each day would mean that the younger children would have to be dismissed at 2.40 p.m. creating practical difficulties for parents who need to pick up children from the older classes at 3.15 p.m.

Q4. Is there a timetable for use of the playground and trim trail?

A4. The children from P4-P7 are now able to self regulate their use of the trim trail. This is of course supervised by learning assistants. However the younger children can get access to the trim trail during curriculum time with their class teacher

Q5. At what stage are children expected to only go to the toilet at break times?

A5. There is no age at which this is expected as we know that all children are different and some may have medical conditions that require more frequent toilet visits. However, children are encouraged to go before the end of break and lunch time so that interruptions to their class time can be kept to a minimum.

Q6. What exactly happens at school dinners? Are they supervised to make sure they eat at least some of it!?

A6. Parents whose children have school lunches will be very familiar with the system of choices and will be able to discuss and make these with their child using the menus provided. P1-P3 can make their choices using an online form whilst P4-P7 are required to hand in a paper form. More information about this is available in the ‘Our School Lunches’ section of our website.

During lunch, the supervisors help the children in whatever way might be necessary, including helping any child who may have difficulties with carrying their tray.

The supervisors will also encourage children to eat their lunch, though of course it would be improper to force a child to do so. As they are in the lunch hall every day, the supervisors know the children who are slow eaters, those who want to rush their food so that they can get out to play, and those who are fussy eaters who try to bin lots of food. Often, children who try to bin food will be asked to go back to their seat to try to eat some more. If this became an issue to the extent that the supervisors were concerned about it, they would report this so that parents could be contacted to let them know.

Children who have packed lunches are encouraged to take any leftover food home in their boxes so that parents can make judgements about how much is being eaten. Of course, it is difficult for a lunch supervisor to make that judgement as they have no idea about how much food was in the box initially. We encourage all parents to send a balanced healthy packed lunch to school.

Q7. Can school cutlery be used to eat home-packed lunches?

A7. Cutlery is provided by the catering company for the use of those children taking school lunches. It is therefore helpful if parents who send their child with a packed lunch also put whatever cutlery their child might require into the packed lunch box. Normally this would only be a small spoon for eating yoghurt or some chopped fresh fruit and if a child should forget to bring one then of course, they would be able to use school cutlery.

Q8. What happens if I forget to send my child with a snack or school lunch?

A8. This happens fairly regularly, most often because packed lunch boxes have been left behind at home or in the car. When this happens, school office staff will try to contact parents to see if they are able to drop off the packed lunch. If they are unable to contact parents or if the parents choose, a school lunch will be provided for the child and payment can be made retrospectively. However as our lunches are ordered for children who have paid and brought to school there may be little food left. If a child regularly comes without a lunch then the school staff would contact the parents in the first instance to resolve the issue but if this continued to happen the school may have to contact Social Care Direct. Unfortunately we are unable to provide snacks for children who forget them. We also operate a Fairtrade tuckshop for children in P1-P3 on a Monday and P4-P7 on a Friday.

Q9. If my child is off sick should I receive a refund for school dinners that have been pre-paid?

A9. Yes. This would normally be in the form of a credit against future lunches that are ordered.

Q10. Is there a tuck shop?

A10. There is a Fairtrade tuck shop that is open to pupils in P1-P3 on a Monday and P4-P7 on a Friday. This is run by senior pupils.

Q11. My child only ever has healthy snacks at school and gets annoyed that others in his class are given crisps and sweets. Does the school have a policy on healthy snacks? Are sweets and crisps allowed in school?

A11. While we encourage healthy eating, including the provision of healthy snacks at break time, we are only able to advise parents. The school has no power to ban any particular snack, including crisps and sweets. The responsibility for the choice of snack rests with parents and some may choose to provide certain items at break time rather than at other times of the day.

Q12. Who looks after each class if the weather prevents outside play? 

A12. When children remain inside due to bad weather, they are supervised by the Learning Assistants and Playground Supervisors who would otherwise have been outside. As part of their senior pupil responsibilities, two P7 children will also be in each class to play with the younger children and to help the Learning Assistants.

Q13. Are the children allowed out at playtime/lunchtime when it snows?

A13. If there is fluffy snow that is ideal for playing with and if the weather is dry, children would normally be allowed out to play. Indeed, we know how much fun this can be for children and so we would be actively encouraging them to enjoy it. If it is very icy or slushy, or if very wet snow is falling, it is likely that children would be kept inside. On days when children are able to play out in the snow, we encourage them to build snowmen and igloos and to be creative in their play. However, in the interest of safety, snowball throwing is not allowed.

Q14. Winter boots: during wet/snowy weather do children change into indoor shoes?

A14. In reasonable weather, there is no need for children to change shoes as the vinyl floorings tend to remove any mud or dirt before they get to the classroom. However, if children are coming to school in large heavy boots or wellies, it would not be comfortable for them to spend the rest of the day wearing these in class. In these circumstances it would be better for parents to make sure that there are more comfortable shoes for their child to change into.