The council that bit off more than it could chew: girl's school dinner blog back by popular demand

 

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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders