Which? snubs Government over new school guidelines

Plans to overhaul guidelines on marketing in the UK’s schools have been torpedoed by consumer lobby Which?. The group has pulled out of talks with the Government and advertisers over concerns that the planned changes are “too weak”.

The discussions have collapsed a month before a ban on the sale of “junk foods” is to be introduced into schools.

A Which? spokeswoman says: “We were involved, but withdrew as we felt that the proposed guidelines were too weak, particularly in terms of the marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt.”

The existing guidelines – officially known as Best Practice Principles for Commercial Activities in Schools – were originally published in 2001, and were a joint effort between the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Consumers Association, now known as Which?.

But the Which? spokeswoman adds that the body believed that the DfES “should be the driving force. It was felt there were a lot of different people involved”.

The current code provides advice to schools and educational authorities on making informed decisions on a variety of in-school marketing schemes such as the sponsorship of educational materials and equipment.

A spokesman for ISBA says the advertisers’ group “remains keen and willing to begin a process of reviewing the existing guidelines”.

He adds: “These remain relevant, but having been published in 2001, we believe they would benefit from review to ensure clarity for businesses and schools alike. We await a partner in the review process to step forward.”

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