Headteacher blasts free school meals 'fiasco'.

Cheselborne School Head teacher Bob Duffin after the school meals fiasco

Cheselborne School Head teacher Bob Duffin after the school meals fiasco

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A HEADTEACHER has branded a free meals policy a ‘fiasco’ after children as young as four were left hungry on their first day of school.

Food delivered to Cheselbourne Village School arrived more than an hour and a half late yesterday, the first day of the new policy and a new contract with provider Chartwells Catering.

Food was due to arrive at 12pm at Cheselbourne but was not delivered until after 1.30pm.

Headteacher Bob Duffin said the food which eventually arrived was sandwiches rather than the hot food promised.

Of the schools contacted by the Dorset Echo, Piddle Valley C of E First School and Greenford C of E Primary School in Maiden Newton also reported issues.

Buckland Newton C of E School, which also receives meals from Chartwells, said there had been no problems.

Dorset County Council said meals were also delivered late at Damers First School in Dorchester.

Other schools were unavailable for comment or start their terms later this week.

Describing it as a ‘fiasco’, Mr Duffin said: “It’s unacceptable and really shoddy treatment.

“We go to great lengths to make sure the children feel happy and safe and it’s not good to start off their time at school by going hungry.

“We kept them going with fruit and biscuits but it’s not ideal. When the food did finally arrive it was tuna or cheese sandwiches and a chocolate brownie, which is hardly a balanced meal.

“We had an extended lunchtime so the children would not be too upset but the rest of the afternoon was not good for learning.”

Jayne Browne, headteacher at Piddle Valley, said they had a minor equipment issue.

She said: “We were just short of some vital pieces of equipment like plates. We did get our lunches as requested. We were able to give the children what they ordered.”

Ms Browne said the school received extra plates and cutlery from Chartwells after lunch.

Meanwhile, Franz Atkinson, headteacher at Greenford said they failed to receive meals in preparation for their first day of term, which is today.

Mr Atkinson said they were expecting a delivery yesterday which never arrived.

He contacted Chartwells and was told they’d be at the school this morning.

He said: “I’m a bit disappointed really. We start lunches at half-past eleven so it will be a bit of a panic but I’m sure we will manage. It will have to be a modified system for the first day.”

Food is provided to Cheselbourne Village School and a number of other schools in Dorset by Chartwells, which began its new contract yesterday.

Other schools use independent providers.

It was also the first day of a national policy to ensure every child in reception, year one and year two receive a free school lunch.

On Monday the Dorset Echo reported concerns that the plans had been ‘rushed through’.

Mr Duffin said parents had been understanding about the issue.

“I think they will be fine with it if it is just one day, but it will be interesting to see what happens during the rest of the week.”

Chartwells was unavailable for comment.

‘Not been without challenges’

PATRICK Myers, children’s services senior manager at Dorset County Council, said: “Ensuring that free school meals are provided across the county has not been without its challenges.

“The majority of schools which have re-opened so far this week received the meals, but we have experienced some teething problems.

“In the case of Damers First School in Dorchester and Cheselbourne School, meals were delivered late. However, these issues are being resolved through close working with the schools and our contractors.”

Comments (22)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:08am Wed 3 Sep 14

MrTomSmith says...

How can it be a Fiasco after ONE day, not a very good start I think everyone would agree with, but Fiasco is a bit much. Bad effort yesterday with the Echo reporting very heavy criticism all day long, now that was a Fiasco.
How can it be a Fiasco after ONE day, not a very good start I think everyone would agree with, but Fiasco is a bit much. Bad effort yesterday with the Echo reporting very heavy criticism all day long, now that was a Fiasco. MrTomSmith
  • Score: 28

9:26am Wed 3 Sep 14

Get a grip says...

And on a posative note.

My daughter came home yesterday from her first day at school and told me that she likes her teacher and her lunch was loverly. The provider is Weymouth college.

Come on Echo you have a duty to give a balanced view.
And on a posative note. My daughter came home yesterday from her first day at school and told me that she likes her teacher and her lunch was loverly. The provider is Weymouth college. Come on Echo you have a duty to give a balanced view. Get a grip
  • Score: 41

11:44am Wed 3 Sep 14

Under35andout says...

worked for weymouth college ., , its all very well prepared by a excellent chef , fresh fruit salads from real fruits and theres a decent menu . the only problem i see if it is quite far from the college, Chartwells Catering. is not the caterer at weymouth college
worked for weymouth college ., , its all very well prepared by a excellent chef , fresh fruit salads from real fruits and theres a decent menu . the only problem i see if it is quite far from the college, Chartwells Catering. is not the caterer at weymouth college Under35andout
  • Score: 13

11:45am Wed 3 Sep 14

garyfdorset says...

The headline is incorrect "Free School Meals" are not a fiasco.
It appears that the problem is caused by the Dorset County Council appointed caterer (Chartwells) who are not supplying or supplying late the meals, and it seems without communicating with the schools.
Other independant caterers are supplying hot nutritious meals on time, and the Echo is not reporting, the positive stories.
The headline is incorrect "Free School Meals" are not a fiasco. It appears that the problem is caused by the Dorset County Council appointed caterer (Chartwells) who are not supplying or supplying late the meals, and it seems without communicating with the schools. Other independant caterers are supplying hot nutritious meals on time, and the Echo is not reporting, the positive stories. garyfdorset
  • Score: 24

11:47am Wed 3 Sep 14

Under35andout says...

https://westsussex.m
ealselector.co.uk looked at there menu , , i wouldnt feed that rubbish to a cat one word MEOOOOOOOW
https://westsussex.m ealselector.co.uk looked at there menu , , i wouldnt feed that rubbish to a cat one word MEOOOOOOOW Under35andout
  • Score: -10

12:53pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Get a grip says...

garyfdorset wrote:
The headline is incorrect "Free School Meals" are not a fiasco.
It appears that the problem is caused by the Dorset County Council appointed caterer (Chartwells) who are not supplying or supplying late the meals, and it seems without communicating with the schools.
Other independant caterers are supplying hot nutritious meals on time, and the Echo is not reporting, the positive stories.
From a local paper we deserve better.
[quote][p][bold]garyfdorset[/bold] wrote: The headline is incorrect "Free School Meals" are not a fiasco. It appears that the problem is caused by the Dorset County Council appointed caterer (Chartwells) who are not supplying or supplying late the meals, and it seems without communicating with the schools. Other independant caterers are supplying hot nutritious meals on time, and the Echo is not reporting, the positive stories.[/p][/quote]From a local paper we deserve better. Get a grip
  • Score: 5

12:59pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Get a grip says...

Dear editor

Should you like to comment on the standard of reporting?
Dear editor Should you like to comment on the standard of reporting? Get a grip
  • Score: 15

1:25pm Wed 3 Sep 14

marabout says...

What an extremely poor Headmaster. He should be taking charge and leading his team and yet on the very first morning of the very first day he considers it his priority to go running to the press with a hard luck story.

Look in the mirror Mr Duffin and sort your school out.

Shameful
What an extremely poor Headmaster. He should be taking charge and leading his team and yet on the very first morning of the very first day he considers it his priority to go running to the press with a hard luck story. Look in the mirror Mr Duffin and sort your school out. Shameful marabout
  • Score: 2

1:33pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Get a grip says...

Well at least they got a quote from a headmaster who is in post.

Yesterday they quoted an acting head who had left the school last term
Well at least they got a quote from a headmaster who is in post. Yesterday they quoted an acting head who had left the school last term Get a grip
  • Score: 11

2:05pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Verbose says...

This is some half baked idea dreamt up by Nick Clegg in the hope of winning a few votes. It has cost the taxpayer one billion pounds to set up. It is the job of the taxpayer to provide education for children not to give them free school meals. Children should be sent to school with a packed lunch that can be just as healthy as a cooked meal and at least then parents would know what their children are eating. If parents can't afford to feed their children they shouldn't have them.
This is some half baked idea dreamt up by Nick Clegg in the hope of winning a few votes. It has cost the taxpayer one billion pounds to set up. It is the job of the taxpayer to provide education for children not to give them free school meals. Children should be sent to school with a packed lunch that can be just as healthy as a cooked meal and at least then parents would know what their children are eating. If parents can't afford to feed their children they shouldn't have them. Verbose
  • Score: 17

2:14pm Wed 3 Sep 14

radiator says...

Is it just me that thinks its up to parents to provide food for their children not the taxpayer?I am a firm believer that you look after your own,when I was a child their was no working tax credits etc for familys like their is now but my mum and dad always made sure we had food on the table. Anyway whats wrong with a tuna sandwich for lunch?I know there are parents out there who probably spend the money on fags and booze instad of the children but the vast majority are caring parents, I wonder how many millions this is costing the country?
Is it just me that thinks its up to parents to provide food for their children not the taxpayer?I am a firm believer that you look after your own,when I was a child their was no working tax credits etc for familys like their is now but my mum and dad always made sure we had food on the table. Anyway whats wrong with a tuna sandwich for lunch?I know there are parents out there who probably spend the money on fags and booze instad of the children but the vast majority are caring parents, I wonder how many millions this is costing the country? radiator
  • Score: 13

2:33pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Get a grip says...

Children learn more if they have a hot meal at lunchtime.

Education is an investment not only in the child but also society as a whole.
Children learn more if they have a hot meal at lunchtime. Education is an investment not only in the child but also society as a whole. Get a grip
  • Score: 20

3:07pm Wed 3 Sep 14

February1948 says...

marabout wrote:
What an extremely poor Headmaster. He should be taking charge and leading his team and yet on the very first morning of the very first day he considers it his priority to go running to the press with a hard luck story. Look in the mirror Mr Duffin and sort your school out. Shameful
Perhaps it was the Echo running around looking for negative quotes from the schools?
[quote][p][bold]marabout[/bold] wrote: What an extremely poor Headmaster. He should be taking charge and leading his team and yet on the very first morning of the very first day he considers it his priority to go running to the press with a hard luck story. Look in the mirror Mr Duffin and sort your school out. Shameful[/p][/quote]Perhaps it was the Echo running around looking for negative quotes from the schools? February1948
  • Score: 8

4:41pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Get a grip says...

So can we all agree that the Echo over the last few days has shown that the standard of reporting is at an all time low?
So can we all agree that the Echo over the last few days has shown that the standard of reporting is at an all time low? Get a grip
  • Score: 23

7:29pm Wed 3 Sep 14

simon26r says...

I agree. The echo has some bad reports and the ones with videos of serious car crashes ect are way over the top. Trying to hard to get news. Then the big news they seem to miss. But they can only report what they know from peoples input.
I agree. The echo has some bad reports and the ones with videos of serious car crashes ect are way over the top. Trying to hard to get news. Then the big news they seem to miss. But they can only report what they know from peoples input. simon26r
  • Score: 7

7:49pm Wed 3 Sep 14

EmLeigh says...

Surely the issue here is that Chartwells bid on, and won, a lucrative contract from Dorset County council. They have had all summer to prepare and get this right, and they failed. Well done to this head teacher for highlighting poor service and to the Echo for reporting it.
Surely the issue here is that Chartwells bid on, and won, a lucrative contract from Dorset County council. They have had all summer to prepare and get this right, and they failed. Well done to this head teacher for highlighting poor service and to the Echo for reporting it. EmLeigh
  • Score: 18

8:48pm Wed 3 Sep 14

noloyalty says...

Chartwells fault in my opinion! ummm maybe due to a load of old staff leaving or having to leave since the new take over! There could be a staff shortage or just new staff not having a clue what to do!! Either way schools are getting meals late (yes again today) and still getting the wrong food!
Chartwells fault in my opinion! ummm maybe due to a load of old staff leaving or having to leave since the new take over! There could be a staff shortage or just new staff not having a clue what to do!! Either way schools are getting meals late (yes again today) and still getting the wrong food! noloyalty
  • Score: 6

9:38pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Newground says...

marabout wrote:
What an extremely poor Headmaster. He should be taking charge and leading his team and yet on the very first morning of the very first day he considers it his priority to go running to the press with a hard luck story.

Look in the mirror Mr Duffin and sort your school out.

Shameful
And get yer hair cut, yer long 'aired yobbo.
[quote][p][bold]marabout[/bold] wrote: What an extremely poor Headmaster. He should be taking charge and leading his team and yet on the very first morning of the very first day he considers it his priority to go running to the press with a hard luck story. Look in the mirror Mr Duffin and sort your school out. Shameful[/p][/quote]And get yer hair cut, yer long 'aired yobbo. Newground
  • Score: -6

10:06pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Hmmm.. says...

Ours didn't get anything today! A sandwich would have been something. Our school had to go to the supermarket and buy food for a minimum of 200 children. They are expecting to have to do the same tomorrow and Chartwell's have not given them any explanation. Simply not good enough.....
Ours didn't get anything today! A sandwich would have been something. Our school had to go to the supermarket and buy food for a minimum of 200 children. They are expecting to have to do the same tomorrow and Chartwell's have not given them any explanation. Simply not good enough..... Hmmm..
  • Score: 11

11:30pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Jmc1972 says...

My child was one of the children who had to wait for their lunch at Cheselbourne school and a meagre sandwich and brownie was not sufficient to fill him up, especially when it arrived nearly two hours late. The catering company was being chased endlessly by the school and the catering company were at fault. Mr duffin is an extremely hard working individual and have you thought that the Echo may have approached him for his opinion ?.
On a positive note, my son was delighted with his meal today and all seems to be well for the minute ......
My child was one of the children who had to wait for their lunch at Cheselbourne school and a meagre sandwich and brownie was not sufficient to fill him up, especially when it arrived nearly two hours late. The catering company was being chased endlessly by the school and the catering company were at fault. Mr duffin is an extremely hard working individual and have you thought that the Echo may have approached him for his opinion ?. On a positive note, my son was delighted with his meal today and all seems to be well for the minute ...... Jmc1972
  • Score: 8

1:27pm Thu 4 Sep 14

JemBmth says...

Yum, yum, yum!
Yum, yum, yum! JemBmth
  • Score: 0

11:07pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Rocksalt says...

Get a grip wrote:
Children learn more if they have a hot meal at lunchtime.

Education is an investment not only in the child but also society as a whole.
No doubt they do learn better if properly fed, although I am not sure it need be hot. In any event, I am still puzzled as to why I am paying towards free meals for the children of a large number of parents perfectly able to pay for them.
[quote][p][bold]Get a grip[/bold] wrote: Children learn more if they have a hot meal at lunchtime. Education is an investment not only in the child but also society as a whole.[/p][/quote]No doubt they do learn better if properly fed, although I am not sure it need be hot. In any event, I am still puzzled as to why I am paying towards free meals for the children of a large number of parents perfectly able to pay for them. Rocksalt
  • Score: 6
Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree