A Good Start to School

Posted on: Mon, 06/21/1999 - 6:36am
Holly Gunning's picture
Joined: 02/01/1999 - 09:00

My eldest son starts school in September and last week he had his "Meet the Teacher" morning. I just wanted to tell everyone how great the school has been. Admittedly we did not get off to a good start. When I received the letter about the visit I phoned the school to arrange a meeting with his teacher in advance so I could discuss his allergies (nuts, milk, eggs, sesame). I talked to the headmaster who completely blew me off. He used the phrase "I've been teaching for 20 years ..." I didn't hear the end of the sentance because of my 2 year old shouting at me but it felt as if he said "... and I haven't killed anyone yet". Of course this is not what he said but that was what his attitude was. Thank goodness he is retiring this year!!!! And being replaced by a woman with a 20 year old peanut allergic son.

So I came in and had a chat with next year's head and the reception class teacher (=kindergarten in England). They seem totally aware of all the issues. All staff in the school have had recent epi-pen training. They have several children with nut allergies and James will be the 4th who is allergic to sesame (!!). This is in a school of just over 200 kids.

Next I had a meeting with the woman in charge of school meals who turns out to have her daughter in the same nursery as my boys. She is lovely. They have no nuts or sesame in the kitchen. They make virtually everything on site including cookies, and buns for burgers and hot dogs. James normally can't eat burgers because even if the buns don't have sesame on them, they are contaminated at the factory. (poor boy can't eat at Macdonalds). And because they also supply the food for a special needs school where lots of the children are on a dairy free diet, they even use dairy free margarine. He will actually be able to have a desert other than jello! It will be great for him to be able to eat basically the same food as everyone else.

We got to stay for lunch during our visit (small chairs and small portions!) and my one concern is that he will need some help to aviod the cheesey and eggy things. He wont be 5 yet and I think he will need 1 person to be responsible for making sure he chooses safe food, rather than relying on all the staff to remember who he is and what his needs are. He is normally pretty upfront with people but he can go shy and can't be relied upon to everyday remember to check with all 4 servers that each separate bit of his meal is safe. He is too little for that responsibility. I have to discuss this with them.

Children who have pack lunches eat in a separate room. This room seems mostly unsupervised so he wont be eating there. I don't know if they are allowed to eat peanut butter or not. Though I am not so concerned to ban things as he is allergic to so many things. But I am concerned about children washing their hands after they have eaten. He is touch sensative to eggs and milk (unless my dreams have come true and he has grown out of these ones which were very serious for him - he will be tested before he starts school).

After my initial contact with the school I was so worried about their attitude, and now I am very relieved. It is difficult enough to cope with your children growing up and becoming independent, add serious allergies to that and it makes for a very tense mommy.

Sorry I about my rambling. I just wanted to share my goodish news.


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