Headteacher Slammed for Banning Birthday Sweets in School – Calls It a ‘Nightmare Tradition’

A junior school principal has caused an uproar for banning the tradition of sweets being handed out on children's birthdays citing the reason as being in the interest of health.

Headteacher Chasey Crawford-Usher of Wateringbury Primary School near Maidstone has been taken to task by parents for outlawing the childhood tradition of handing out sweets to celebrate a birthday.

The "nightmare tradition" of Primary school children bringing sugary treats to school must be nipped in the bud, according to Crawford-Usher. 

Her concerns are multifaceted. She says the sugary treats encourage children to be unhealthy, thereby leading to tooth decay and obesity.

Crawford-Usher also brings up the legitimate concern that parents are not being asked permission before their children are handed sweets, thus stripping the rights of those who don't want unhealthy snacks for their children. 

The Principal admits that there had been a backlash from parents who thought she was "cruel and unsympathetic," but that she had to create a policy that was equal to all. 

According to the latest NHS figures, almost nine out of every ten tooth extractions conducted in a hospital on a young child involve rotten teeth.

Statistics show that most youngsters eat in excess of eight cubes of sugar more per day than is healthy leading to an increase in tooth decay.

Thirteen thousand children under the age of five required painful tooth extractions in 2018, leading Crawford-Usher to retaliate with this harsh-sounding policy in her school, saying:

"I can understand how it started, I think it probably goes back years and years. My view is that things have changed today and the amount of sugar children consume is out of all proportion to what they should be eating, and therefore the tradition is no longer acceptable."

The Principal believes that there are many ways children can celebrate their birthdays at school that doesn't involve sugary treats. There is also a case to be made for those who can't afford to reciprocate on their birthday.

She also raises a growing concern brought to her by parents whose children have strict dietary habits about the lack of control over what their children are given to consume in school. 

"A few parents came to me and explained the amount of pressure they were under to comply with this tradition even though they disagreed with it."

Her last issue with the tradition is that children littered the school playgrounds with sweet wrappers and the parents sending them along could not be held responsible for the mess they created.

With an average of thirty students per class, Crawford-Usher said that sweets were being handed out in the school most days of the week and the situation was "out of control."

The Principal admits that there had been a backlash from parents who thought she was "cruel and unsympathetic," but that she had to create a policy that was equal to all. 

There has been a marked difference in the playgrounds since the ban with a noticeable absence of litter now that children are no longer bringing in sweets.

Crawford-Usher feels that other headteachers should also have a rethink about allowing these old traditions to continue in the face of such worrying statistics.

"We have a moral responsibility to consider the wider health and wellbeing of our children whilst they're in our care, and we have to set rules and boundaries that we're comfortable with."

This comes on the heels of a school in Lancashire that banned birthday cakes due to a rise in allergic reactions amongst students due to the ingredients used in baked goods.

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