ANGRY parents have started a campaign to stop a secondary school’s plans to change its pupils’ lunchtimes.

Gable Hall School is proposing lunch breaks are split in two – with one half of the school lunching half an hour before the other.

Dr Sophina Asong, the Corringham school’s headteacher, believes the idea would end canteen queues and enable pupils to sit and eat inside, whatever the weather.

The controversy has been caused by the proposal to divide the school up by house groups, rather than year groups.

This would mean youngsters, who have friends in the same year – but in other houses – would no longer lunch together.

Unhappy parents say the idea is making their children miserable, and already 450 people have signed a online petition against it.

Simon Tully, who started the campaign, said: “This is a stupid idea that shouldn’t even be trialled.

“If anything, the lunch break should just be returned to an hour and all groups lunch together.

Otherwise, you are causing segregation.”

One parent, commenting on the petition, said: “My daughter came home distraught at the thought she will be separated from her friends.

“This school is becoming more and more like a robotic institution whereby children’s individuality is taken away, their minds and personality controlled and friends dictated by the school.”

Another said: “I have an unhappy daughter, too.

“Her little group of lovely friends are all in different house groups, it’s not fair to split them up, they could end up alone.”

But Dr Asong disagreed and said students were unhappy with the current lunchtime system.

She said: “In order to improve our students’ lunchtime experience, we are consulting on a split lunch break.

“If adopted, the adjustments will end the lunchtime queues and enable all students to sit down to eat in a more relaxed atmosphere in wet or dry weather.

“The proposals are not intended to segregate children and we urge anyone who has concerns to feed into the consultation or contact the school directly – a meeting for parents is scheduled for June 24.”