Advertising in schools: It’s a phrase that automatically sets alarm bells ringing, like ‘wasp in a Portaloo’ or ‘drunk dentist’.
Perth and Kinross Council revealed this week that it is actively considering advertising in schools as a potential money-spinner.
Bosses are discussing the move with head teachers, after a campaign to sell commercial space on the sides of bin lorries failed to generate much interest.
Advertising in schools sounds like a terrible idea, but it might not be as bad as it sounds.
Yes, fizzy drinks firms and fast food chains cannot be allowed to plug their products in our schools. I’m sure we’re all on the same page here, given the ongoing efforts to tackle child obesity across Scotland.
Equally, selling space to toy manufacturers or video game makers would put more pressure on parents to buy products they don’t really need.
It’s easy to think of extreme ways that this project could go badly wrong. It could start with free samples in the school canteen and end with black and white hoardings commanding “OBEY” and “CONSUME”.
But a few posters in the common room or in corridors advertising new books or upcoming theatre productions wouldn’t be too problematic, would they?
Big business investment in our educational estate could be a big plus too, particularly during this turbulent time for local schools.
But at what cost?
Perth and Kinross Council have a lot to think about before they move ahead with this.
Businesses could be falling over themselves to be able to (finally!) sell their goods directly to that impressionable, highly lucrative – and genuinely captive – 11-18-year-old market.
The region could become a testing ground, as marketing firms get the chance to dip their toe in relatively uncharted waters.
The council, which appears to be well aware of the pitfalls here, needs to ensure that the rights of children and their families remain an absolutely priority.
We cannot allow our schools to be transformed by commercial businesses, with their own agendas, for the sake of some extra income.