Allergy Mums / Support for families with allergies

publication date: Oct 24, 2014

Allergies and Choosing a Secondary School


I always promised myself that I would be cool about it all. Visit the schools, take Molly to ones I like, rank them, apply and be done. Simple. I’ve seen other parents grey with worry throughout the process and always thought ‘well…there’s nothing you can do about the outcome so why make yourself sick with worry?’. Oh the arrogance.

Now it’s my turn. I’m obsessing over GCSE pass rates with the best of them. Exchanging views in the playground; hoping people like the school I like, or hoping they don’t so that there are less applications! London is a nightmare of oversubscribed schools, or schools that are consistently undersubscribed.

On top of our requirements, our views and beliefs, are the views of a strong willed 10 year old. She is very clear about her requirements. Having been excluded from school lunches throughout primary she is determined this doesn’t happen again. Detailed studying of the menus on offer has been the result. A forensic approach has been taken. How many days of the week can she eat from the current menu? Have we emailed and asked if they can make adjustments? At the end of the day…her main question is ‘do they care, that I care so much about this?’. It’s an interesting approach; and perhaps tells us more than we care to think about the pastoral strengths of the schools we are looking at. Those that have been dismissive and said  ‘it will be fine’, ‘I’m sure there will be something’ have gone right to the bottom of the list. The schools that had the caterers call or email us; asking specific questions so they can give clear answers, have rocketed to the top.

I wonder…do schools really understand the impact of exclusion due to food allergies? Do they get, that day in, day out these children feel ‘apart’, ‘different’, and often ignored? They can’t take part in all sorts of playground conversations about how awful the pudding was, or delicious the chicken. It’s the best way for playground bullies to exclude these children from conversations. Easy to pick on them for being different, easy to make them feel isolated. One day I suspect there will be a study on the psychological impact of exclusion on allergic children. For now…as parents…we are limited to trying to be heard by schools. But I feel like I’m shouting in the middle of wind tunnel. Nobody can hear me.


So the school that’s top of our list isn’t the one that has the highest marks. The school top of our list isn’t the one parents are desperate to get into. The school at the top of our list isn’t the most oversubscribed girls school in London…no…the school at the top of the list is the one where they cared enough to have a meeting about our daughter and figure out a way to feed her. So…with a bit of luck…she will truly feel part of her Secondary School.

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