A leading private girls school is being fiercely criticised for holding an ‘Austerity Day’ lunch, where students ate what some commenters have said is a “standard state school dinner”.
St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith tweeted about the buffet, where students and staff were offered baked potatoes, beans and coleslaw on Wednesday, announcing that the “money saved” by the menu would be donated to charity.
Accompanying the images of the food was a poster advertising the event, featuring a picture of a fine-dining waiter displaying a silver plate with three peas on it.
Henna Shah, a former student at the school which charges new entrants almost £8,000 a term, shared the post on Thursday asking, “Are you joking?”.
St Paul’s deleted the original tweet, however it circulated widely on Twitter on Friday after Shah shared it again, having screen-grabbed the original.
St Paul’s has been approached for comment, but is yet to issue one. The school’s communications manager replied to a request by asking: “Where did you see it?”.
In subsequent Twitter posts, Shah wrote: “The three peas on a silver platter really makes it”.
She also wrote: “My old school’s idea of a charity lunch? I highly recommend you rethink this – contrary to popular belief not all your students and alumnae feast on foie gras every meal.”
“How offensive do you have to be? This is not austerity. If you want to know what real austerity looks like, maybe read @Bootstrapcook or speak to one of your bursary students who you seem to erase out of existence.”
The sentiment was echoed across social media.
Shah, an editorial assistant, told HuffPost on Friday that she was “incredibly grateful” for being able to attend St Paul’s Girls’ School as it had given her “opportunities someone like me would never have had otherwise”.
“I recognise that few people like me get the chance to have an education like this on a bursary scheme like I did,” she said.
The 24-year-old said she highlighted the school’s Austerity Day fundraiser because “everyone deserves the best quality education”.
“It is upsetting to see that on a day that is meant to be about compassion, the way it was presented showed utter contempt.
“Austerity is not about eating jacket potatoes once a term, it is about not being able to afford anything else,” she said.