A BLACKBURN school has banned parents from chewing gum on its premises and in its grounds.

The move at Lammack Primary School is being taken in a controversial crackdown on litter.

It means parents cannot even chew gum while waiting in the grounds to pick up their children at the Lammack Road school.

The policy has prompted a mixed reaction amongst parents and was labelled "ridiculous" by teaching union chiefs and education groups.

But the stance has won support from anti-litter campaign the Tidy Britain Group and council officials who warned that parents throwing gum could be fined.

Head Mary Lewis used the school's newsletter to announce the gum ban, stating: "SORRY!! We ask parents not to chew gum on our premises.

"Our cleaners work very hard to maintain our building to a high standard and they are disheartened when they see gum on the floors or the playground PLEASE LEAVE GUM AT HOME."

Lancashire negotiating secretary of teaching union the NASUWT, Lesley Ham criticised the policy.

She said: "Telling parents what they can and can't do is heavy handed and the school is treating adults like children.

"Newsletters should be used for more important issues than chewing gum."

The Campaign For Real Education, which pushes for more parental choice in UK schools, was also critical.

Chairman Nick Seaton said: "Parents are being talked at like they are naughty children and the school, if it keeps going down this road, will be handing them lines and detentions - it's quite ridiculous."

But Mrs Lewis defended the move. She said: "We have the government's Eco-School status for our commitment to saving the environment and this is something our school council raised.

"We don't have a big problem with chewing gum. It's prevention rather than cure, but children aren't allowed to chew so we are asking parents to set the right example."

Marina Marsh, 31, whose six-year-old son Ryan attends the school, said: "I think it is a good idea.

"The school wants to keep the place tidy and parents should know better and would only complain if their children came home with gum on their clothes."

But another mother, who has two sons at the school, said: "I chew gum when I pick up my kids and I never spit it out and have never seen others do it.

"I think the headteacher is right to highlight the issue but to ask parents to leave gum at home is extreme and going a bit far.

"After all when there is a parking problem you don't ban cars there."

A Tidy Britain Group spokeswoman said it supported moves to stop gum being discarded but had misgivings about a blanket ban.

He added: "We are glad the school is positively encouraging parents not to discard gum but the best policy is to educate parents, as a blanket ban will punish all parents including those who do dispose of their gum correctly."

Coun Mohammed Khan, the borough's executive member for housing and neighbourhoods, declined to comment on a school's individual stance, but said: "Discarding chewing gum on the floor is unsightly and unnecessary as people should simply place it in a bin.

"It is also illegal and people can receive fines for doing it as it is classed as litter."

In 2005 the government spent £150m on clearing up chewing gum.

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