The council that bit off more than it could chew: girl's school dinner blog back by popular demand
Friday 15 June 2012
A council that banned a nine-year-old girl from taking pictures of her school dinners was forced into a U-turn today after an outcry on Twitter.
Martha Payne, a primary school pupil from Lochgilphead, Argyll, runs a blog, NeverSeconds, documenting the contents of her canteen lunches, even assessing the number of hairs in each meal.
While her reviews are generally positive, photographs of some unhealthy dishes generated media attention, following television chef Jamie Oliver’s high-profile campaign to improve the quality of school dinners.
But a Daily Record headline stating that it was “Time to fire the school dinner ladies” left staff “in tears” and feeling “palpable” levels of distress, prompting Argyll and Bute Council to act.
On Thursday, a note titled “goodbye” appeared on Martha’s blog. “This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my headteacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today,” she wrote in the post beneath.
News of the ban led to outrage on Twitter. John Prescott told the council: “Stopping a talented 9-year-old's freedom of expression is a really bad idea. Let her blog!”, while Jamie Oliver told Martha to “stay strong”.
Ian Rankin, the author, tweeted: “I spent today trying to enthuse school pupils about creativity and the written word. So thanks a lot.”
The council defended its ban with a bullish statement condemning “unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service” and accusing Martha and her father of “misrepresenting the options and choices available to pupils”.
Appalled by the unfolding PR disaster, MSP Michael Russell, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education, called the decision “daft” and said he would contact the council’s chief executive.
Hours later, council leader Roddie McCuish appeared on Radio 4's The World at One to announce the blogging ban had been lifted.
“It's a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I've certainly done that,” he said.
Not only has the fuss resulted in Martha being allowed to blog again, but donations to her Just Giving charity account have soared.
On Thursday, she had accumulated £2,000– £5,000 short of the total needed to build kitchen for schoolchildren in Malawi.
As of tonight, Martha had £35,000.
A spokeswoman for Mary's Meals said that not only was it enough to provide a kitchen with Martha’s name on, but also to build further kitchens and feed almost 2,000 children for an entire year.
Martha Payne is raising money for Mary's Meals on JustGiving
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Ryan Gosling granted temporary restraining order against a woman 'convinced she was his twin flame'
Jennifer Lawrence sings in new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1 clip on YouTube
Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...