He was told his daughter could only have cow’s milk as part of the school’s milk scheme.
A primary school in Solihull has agreed to allow a student to bring soya milk into school taking a U-turn on its policy of only offering cow’s milk or water.
The case came to light after five-year-old Sofia moved from Nursery to Reception at Cranmore Infant School in Solihull. At the time her dad Paul Roberts was told she could only have cow’s milk as part of the school’s milk scheme.
However, Roberts questioned the policy and even sent an email to Headteacher, Rebecca Ward following the school’s complaints procedure, which was also rejected.
The school’s governing body also failed to uphold his complaint, stating it found no evidence of discrimination.
So, Roberts, who started to suffer with insomnia and anxiety as Sofia continued to miss out contacted Dr Jeanette Rowley – Vegan Rights Advocate and Chair of the International Rights Network at The Vegan Society – for assistance with his complaint.
After consulting Dr Rowley, Roberts submitted a comprehensive letter outlining the legalities of the situation to the school’s governing body after a second official complaint letter was turned down.
While the body responded stating that there was no evidence to show Sofia had suffered discrimination, they ruled in Paul’s favour – allowing Sofia to have soya milk in school as an alternative to cow’s milk.
In addition, it also recommended that the school’s water-only policy must be reviewed and a dairy-free alternative must be added to the Cool Milk scheme.
“Getting in touch with The Vegan Society and working closely with Jeanette was the best thing we ever did,” Roberts said after winning the case.
“Not only does my Sofia get to have her soya milk but the school are even subsidising it too. Jeanette was amazing, she was always so professional and extremely supportive at every step.”
Freedom of choice
Dr Rowley commenting on the case said: “I am delighted with the outcome of Mr Roberts’ long running case. Sofia, and other pupils, can now drink a plant-based alternative to cow’s milk while at school, and, in the context of inclusion, the school will now examine the way it promotes cow’s milk.
“All schools should understand their duties under the Equality Act 2010, and, particularly, that the Public Sector Equality Duty requires schools to consider the negative impact of polices on different groups of people and do everything reasonably possible to remove the disadvantages vegans face.”
“They should also be aware of their human rights obligations, particularly to ensure they do not interfere with the rights of individuals to adopt veganism as a belief of choice, to respect the right of parents to raise their children according to their vegan moral values, and their duty to ensure a critical, objective, and plural educational environment.
“The Vegan Society will always do what it can to help vegans, or those transitioning to or considering veganism. I’m delighted that we were able to secure for Paul and Sofia the outcomes they are entitled to.”
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