Friday, 15 June 2012

Some advice for Argyll and Bute

Twitter is blowing up this morning with news that Argyll and Bute Council apparently banned a 9-year-old girl from taking photos of her school dinners, reviewing them and posting them on her incredibly popular blog Never Seconds.

She has received praise from Jamie Oliver, been featured on Newsround and has been doing a brilliant job of making the case healthy school dinners.

Martha Payne writes on her latest post:

"This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today. 

I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.


If it is true, then it seems like the Council (a further post by her dad reveals it was the Council rather than her school) has made a really bad decision. How can Argyll and Bute start to repair their reputation?

  • Act quickly 
  • Admit they got it wrong - they should admit that they shouldn't have told Martha not to take photos
  • Apologise to her in person and then publicly 
  • Link to her blog in their online apology
  • Ask Martha to become a lunch champion for Argyll and Bute to help her design a new menu - with help from other pupils
  • Help Martha promote her fundraising for Mary's Meals - a charity she is supporting that provides school dinners in Africa 

Stories can go viral quickly on Twitter but you can change the emphasis just as quickly if you're open and honest about when you've got it wrong.


  1. I am a teacher and I posted pictures of my school dinners on my blog to highlight the quality of our school meals in Merton. We had a lively parent campaign and as a result our school food improved dramatically. The council never attempted to ban teachers of governors from taking photos which ended up in the Guardian and the Daily Mirror though I suspect the caterers would have like to!

    You can see our dinners go from dire to delicious here

  2. I was shocked and appalled to hear about Argyll and Bute's behaviour around this. I've been following Martha's blog with great interest (I'm a parent governor at a primary school in Brighton) and it always lights up my day - not just because of the main content, but because I find it really encouraging that a 9-year-old has a blog and writes so well.

    I hope that the council backs down and takes a serious look at the damage they are doing, not only to themselves, but to Martha and all the other primary school bloggers who should be encouraged to write, not silenced.


  3. highly unlikely that Argyll and Bute have a PR team as competent as you!!

  4. Thanks for your comments. Jackie - that is so ace! Well done.
    Ady - I agree. Looks like they've done that now. Ecorenovation - you're too kind, but thank you!


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