A SCHOOL’s decision to ‘police’ children’s packed lunches has sparked a heated debate over a food policy banning favourites like sausage rolls, pork pies and flavoured water from lunchboxes.

While Shirley Manor Primary Academy, Wyke, says it wants to help its pupils eat well, some parents have slammed the rules - which say offending items will be removed by staff - as “ridiculous”.

Head teacher Heather Lacey said the school wants to ensure children “eat well and grow up understanding the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle”.

It’s an aim set against stark obesity statistics for Bradford.

Latest figures for 2015/16 show 20.9 per cent of reception class pupils are overweight or obese, compared to 22.4 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber and 22.1 per cent nationally.

In Year 6, when children are aged 10 and 11, that figure rises to 36.4 per cent, compared with 34.6 per cent in the region and 34.2 per cent in England.

And two-thirds of the district’s adults are now overweight or obese, according to health figures, leading to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, type two diabetes and other potentially fatal illnesses.

Corinne Harvey, from Public Health England in Yorkshire and The Humber, said:

‘The latest statistics on children's weight show just how important it is for families to know what they are putting on their plates and in their lunchboxes.

"The Change4Life campaign has lots of tips and ideas for families on healthy lunchboxes and the free Be Food Smart app can be used to find out how much sugar, saturated fat and salt there is in food - helping taking some of the pressure off parents and helping them to choose healthier food and drink options for their children."

Meanwhile, Bradford Council is urging primary and nursery schools across the district to join a scheme that aims to improve pupils’ health and academic performance by walking or running for fifteen minutes a day.

The initiative was founded by Elaine Wyllie, a primary school head teacher in Scotland, back in 2012 after she became concerned about children’s lack of fitness.

It is now due to be rolled out across Scotland and has also been formally recommended to primary schools in the UK Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy.

There’s now more than 3,000 participating schools and over half a million children taking part daily.

Among benefits, including spending time outdoors as well as building self-esteem and confidence, the scheme “...is critical to reducing childhood inactivity and obesity. Children are getting fatter, younger, and we need to stop this in its tracks,” The Daily Mile’s website says.

Bradford Council said: “Every primary school in the district has been invited to set up their own Daily Mile which gives pupils the time to stretch their legs by running or walking every day so they’ll come back to their classroom more focussed and ready to learn.

“The advantage of the scheme is that it is free: any child can take part in the activity, regardless of age, ability, or personal circumstance. The Daily Mile involves no set or tidy up time, no change of clothes, and gets the children out in the fresh air.

“There is a growing body of research to showing that doing The Daily Mile improves pupils’ learning and mental wellbeing.

“Experiences from schools who have taken part in the scheme shows it works best if teachers use their discretion to take pupils out when they’re getting fidgety, flagging or they just need a break to let off steam and clear their heads.”

Councillor Val Slater, the Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, added: “In Bradford we all want to give our children the best start in life and we are particularly keen for our children to be healthy and active.

“We’re asking all primary schools in Bradford to join us in doing The Daily Mile to help make schools in the district healthier, happier and great places to learn. “

“It will help schools raise attainment levels, reduce childhood obesity and make a happy environment for them to learn in.”