What are the burning issues of the day for our children's education? Nay, our children's future?
The lack of school places? Super-mammoth class sizes that dilute the individual attention our children need to encourage and nurture them? School uniform policies that see kids being excluded for having short-back-and-sides haircuts and/or extort money from hard-pressed parents who can't afford to buy a blazer for umpteen pounds? The punishment of said hard-pressed parents who get fined for taking their kids out of schools during term-time because rip-off holiday companies quadruple their prices during the school holidays? The demands on teachers as they struggle to cope with everything from the ever-changing curriculum to an influx of English-as-second-language children? Violence, low-level disruptive behaviour and ill-discipline in the classroom? Whether sex education should be made compulsory for children from the age of five?
If you were furiously nodding at all of the above, then go to the back of the class – because you're wrong.
No, the burning issue of the day – at least in one local authority is: CAKE.
Yep, more specifically, should children be allowed to take CAKE into their classrooms to celebrate their birthdays, and should schools allow CAKE to be sold at class teas to raise much-needed money for the deprived school coffers.
The Great British Bake-off has a lot to answer for!
I kid you not: of all the burning, very real, very pressing, very concerning issues that could and should be occupying this local authority's grey matter, CAKE is the one that has been chosen as the Debate du Jour for a forthcoming Town Hall forum.
Here's the letter – shared with me by a parent who found it in her son's book bag this week:
Dear Parents and Carers,
School Council are preparing for the annual Primary debates which are taking place at XXXX Town Hall.
This year, we are debating whether schools should be cake free zones. This follows recommendations from some (council) officials that cakes should not be brought in for birthday celebrations or sold at school events.
Some XXXX schools have already adopted the policy that fruit is brought in to share at birthday celebrations instead of cake.
We would like to present both sides of the argument in our debate.
Please fill out the questionnaire and return to the school office:
I usually buy a cake at class tea
I usually bring a cake in for my child's birthday
I am unhappy if my child has had cake during school time to celebrate a class mate's birthday
My child has cakes and sweet food at home as a treat
I would prefer healthy class teas and healthy birthday treats which do not include cake or sweet foods at school
Sheesh!!!! Now we all know there is an issue with childhood obesity (for some, but by NO means ALL children) and without a doubt, part of that problem is that fat children are overweight because they eat too much CAKE, along with too much processed food, burgers, chips, pizzas, hot dogs and ice cream.
But whose fault is that?
Is it the parents of children who feed their children a balanced diet, part of which includes the occasional CAKE?
Or is it the parents who don't even think about such matters and view CAKE with a raspberry on top as part of their child's five-a-day?
Over the last few years we have been bombarded and bombarded with information about what's healthy and what's not as part of an education-cures-all-ills drive to solve the obesity crisis.
Well, we've got the message: CAKE can be bad for your kids - if they eat it three times a day instead of broccoli and bananas.
None of us doubts the wisdom of the widely adopted policy to ban sweets, fizzy drinks, chocolate and CAKE from packed lunches.
But CAKE for a child's birthday? A cupCAKE once a week at class tea? Even CAKE on a Saturday night? Where's the harm? Stupid question – there is no harm.
Which brings us back to stupid questions: why the hell, when there are so many other things wrong with our education system right now, has CAKE been deemed a subject for an entire evening's debate?
So instead of asking parents for our views on the entirely uncontroversial subject of CAKE, let's debate this instead:
What is the point of wasting parents' time with ludicrous questionnaires about subjects that are not evenly remotely worthy of debating?
Please take a few moments to fill out our questionnaire:
Are you a do-gooder?
Do you like making a fuss about nothing?
Do you have too much time on your hands?
Do you have a life?
If you answered No, do you think you should get one?
Have your children heard of Marie Antoinette?
If No, do you think your kids would be better off being taught about her – and other historical figures - rather than debating CAKE?
And finally, was she right?
What do you think?