School football ban 'ridiculous'
A ban on traditional leather footballs at a primary school has been branded "ridiculous" by parents.
Pupils at Harewood Junior School in Tuffley, Gloucestershire, are now allowed to use only soft sponge footballs in the playground.
Headteacher Andrea Mills said in the school's newsletter: "In response to a number of accidents last year, the children, staff and I have decided that we will no longer be playing with leather footballs at playtimes and lunchtimes.
"I have purchased some sponge footballs for each year group so that the children can still play their favourite games and am happy for them to bring in something similar if they wish. We will still be using the correct-size leather balls for football club and specific PE lessons."
But the move has been described as another example of health and safety gone too far, with parents saying the decision was an over-reaction.
Kirstie Davis, whose son goes to the school, told the Citizen newspaper: "People have been doing it for years and they have never had any fatal accidents because of a leather football. I think it is quite stupid."
Another mother, who did not wish to be named, added: "They might as well keep them in straitjackets."
Gloucestershire County Council, the local education authority, distanced itself from the decision. A spokeswoman said: "It is up to individual schools to make decisions like this. Gloucestershire County Council has not advised them to do this."
In a statement, Ms Mills defended the school's move, saying children were getting hurt in the playground by the heavy leather balls. She said: "Last term we noticed that, while some of the children were playing, the leather balls were occasionally being kicked in the wrong direction unintentionally and this resulted in some children getting hurt."
She added: "This is not about health and safety regulations - it's about us changing something very small which could help stop a child getting hurt, and I know of many schools that have already taken this decision. If any parent has concerns, I am more than happy to talk to them about this."