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24th May, 2022

Solihull school's U-turn after vegan dad's campaign to get soya milk on the menu

A PRIMARY School in Solihull has done a U-turn on a policy of only offering cow’s milk or water after a vegan dad, whose five-year-old was banned from bringing soya milk into school, turned to The Vegan Society to help fight his case.

In September 2020, as his daughter Sofia moved from nursery to reception at Cranmore Infant School in Solihull, Paul Roberts was told she could only have cow’s milk as part of the school’s milk scheme.

This was despite Sofia never having tried dairy milk and followed a year of her taking her own soya milk into the school’s on-site nursery without issue.

Desperate to let Sofia enjoy milk time with her classmates, Paul questioned staff on why she, along with another pupil with a dairy allergy, could not enjoy a plant-based alternative instead.

After receiving a verbal rejection, Paul sent an email outlining his concerns via the school’s complaints procedure to headteacher Rebecca Ward which was also turned down.

Following this, Paul went to the school’s governing body which again failed to uphold his complaint.

He turned to Facebook to find other vegan parents and was advised by Laura Chepner of Primary Veducation to contact Dr Jeanette Rowley, Vegan rights advocate and chair of the International Rights Network at The Vegan Society.

Following initial discussions with Jeanette, Paul submitted a second complaint to Mrs Ward which was also rejected.

This was followed by a comprehensive letter outlining the legalities of the situation to the school’s governing body.

The Vegan Society said it responded stating there was no evidence to show Sofia had suffered discrimination but ruled in Paul’s favour – permitting Sofia to have soya milk in school as an alternative to cow’s milk.

In addition the governing body recommended the school’s water-only policy must be reviewed and it should look into including a dairy-free alternative to the milk provided under the Cool Milk scheme.

Paul said: “Jeanette was amazing, she was always so professional and extremely supportive at every step.”

A spokesperson from Cranmore Infant School said: “It is school policy that the only drink children can bring into school is water, with children whose parents take part in the Cool Milk scheme provided with cow’s milk by the school.

“Mr Roberts was unhappy that soya milk was not made available to his daughter, and we have now resolved the matter by providing unsweetened soya milk as part of revised school policy.”

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