The News Comment on petition launched after school ‘halal’ note

The note sent out by mistake by Milton Park School
The note sent out by mistake by Milton Park School
Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Here’s The News Comment today on the petition launched after a school sent parents a note saying pork was not on the menu for children.

The headteacher of Milton Park Primary School in Portsmouth says the letter was sent out by mistake.

But angry parents had already taken their concerns online and set up a petition condemning the note.

Today, we say: ‘There was a time, before the internet and social media, when a parent reading a note plucked from their child’s school bag, would take time to absorb the latest missive from that educational establishment.

Had they taken umbrage at its contents they would have had all night to consider a response before picking up the phone the following day or even penning a letter in response. Or they might have chosen to simply ignore it.

Today, and we have all probably been guilty of this in some form or another at one time, it is so easy to run with the herd in a cacophony of protest. The internet has a nasty habit of making us trigger happy.

A fusillade of tweets, a volley of Facebook posts during the evening and before you know it there is a whole storm of indignant protest being whipped up on the web.

Oh for the days of calm reflection; days of not leaping to conclusions which, in an era of knee-jerk reaction, it is now so easy to do.

Within hours of Milton Park Primary School, Portsmouth, telling parents it would cease serving pork, a right old rumpus had kicked off on one of those instant petition websites.

Apparently a new menu would only include sausages made from halal chicken, a move obviously made to suit Muslim or Jewish pupils. Or so the protesters believed.

Alarmingly an incredible 3,000 people had quickly signed up for that instant protest against the school’s supposed new menu.

What none of them appears to have done is reflect for a moment on that note from the school before letting rip on their keyboards.

For as it turns out, it was sent by mistake.

As headteacher Julie Smith confirms in our story today, pork will indeed continue to be served as will the halal chicken sausages. ‘The note was sent in error and doesn’t reflect school policy,’ she says. ‘We have a wonderful multicultural school and are happy to cater for everyone.’

If only somebody had checked.

Assumptions can be dangerous. Very. We would hope lessons might be learnt from this, but sadly, we doubt it.’