Teacher Talk

'I'm glad I drank milk in school, even though it was horrible'
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The Independent Online

Diana Morgan, the head of Johanna primary school in Lambeth, London, is dismayed by reports that the Government is considering ending milk subsidies for 1.2 million primary-school children in England. She believes that children need subsidised milk to ensure they grow up healthy. A report from London Economics says that the school milk subsidy is expensive to administer and does little to improve children's health.

Do you think milk should be free in all schools?

Yes, definitely. We offer free milk to all our pupils and it would be against our agenda if the children had to pay. I think the Government should make this the norm for all schools.

What was it like when you were at school?

I detested the stuff. We were forced to drink it. Though I am glad I did now, I used to hate it then because it was left next to the radiator and would get lumps in it. It was rancid. It's obviously better now that the milk comes in cartons and looks much more appealing. We make sure it is fresh and cold for the children, and they are not forced to drink it.

How important do you think it is for children to drink milk in schools?

Extremely so. It's very important for their growth, especially for the younger children. It helps to keep their bones and teeth healthy.

What is the policy on milk in your school?

We buy 30 cartons of milk each day and distribute it among the nursery and reception classes. There would certainly be an additional cost to bear if it was not subsidised. The milk is delivered to the kitchen and the children go to collect it with their little trolleys. We don't force the children to drink it. Those who don't want it can drink water.

Can you justify subsidising milk in schools to the tune of £5m a year?

Yes. I am so glad I drank milk every day in school, even though it was horrible. It helped me grow. Drinking milk also helps to keep the children calm compared with drinking fizzy pop, which would send them loopy, so I think the Government should definitely do everything it can to encourage children to drink milk. I don't think it can be overestimated how much milk benefits young children.