Belfast Telegraph

School bans 'chasies' in the playground

By Jonathan Bell

A school has banned children playing 'chasies' in the playground.

St Bernard's Primary School in Glengormley yesterday implemented a 'walk don't run' policy inside and outside the school, ending the age-old game of kids playing catch and chase.

The school said there had been a number of "serious accidents" involving children running and chasing each other.

It was considering putting in place a running track to allow children to run under supervision.

Principal Paul Flanagan said that given the small confines of the playground and that there could be up to 300 children in it at any one time, he was forced to take the action.

He said: "The last thing any parent wants is a phone call saying their child is in hospital or has lost a tooth.

"We are very pro-health in the school and only ever think of the children's health and safety through every one of our decisions."

But the decision has angered some parents.

One man branded the decision as "laughable" on social media, while others said the move was "health and safety gone mad".

"Don't forget to wrap your kids in cotton wool before you put their bubblewrap coats on now folks," joked one poster on Facebook.

However, one parent, who asked not to be named, said she backed the head's move.

She told this newspaper: "In the past there has always been people grumbling about the decisions Mr Flanagan has made, but they have proved to be the right decisions.

"I have had four kids at the school, one has left, and I have found the decisions Mr Flanagan has made to be in the best interests of all at the school.

"He is no jobsworth and has taken the school from a very poor performing one to one of the best around - the results are fantastic.

"So I know he has the best interests of all in what he does and he would not have taken this decision lightly.

"The playground is very small and they are looking at getting a running track and there is still the football on the pitches.

"Mr Flanagan may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he is a leader and a good one at that."

In a statement the school said: "St Bernard's Primary School is committed to the health and safety of the pupils in its care.

"The school is very proud of achieving a gold mark as a Health Promoting School for the last three consecutive years.

"The school continues to make all decisions with the pupils' best interests at heart.

"As a result of very limited playground space and in response to appeals from parents, we conducted a risk assessment and following consultation with pupils, the school has introduced this policy in order to make the playground a safer place for all.

"As a health-promoting school, a vast range of extra-curricular activities are provided to the pupils and these are not affected by the policy.

"At lunchtime break we continue to offer a variety of healthy options for all children which include a running track for children, football and organised games, several bicycle tracks, play resources such as skipping ropes, gymnastics equipment, bowling, parachute games, agility bars, skittles and handball games.

"We are also one of the only schools locally who have a huge climbing dome and an adventure playground for the children's use."

The statement continued: "We continue to promote healthy activities at all play times in our school, however, it has been necessary to eliminate the frequency and seriousness of accidents.

"The play space around the school already falls short of the Department of Education guidelines and the school authorities are presently negotiating with the department to increase this space.

"Our playground is now a happy and safe place for children to be. This policy applies only when there are multiple classes in the playground."

Belfast Telegraph


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