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Schools ban games over safety fears

Traditional playtime games like conkers and British bulldog are disappearing from school playgrounds amid concerns about health and safety, research suggests.

Schools are banning the activities due to fears of broken bones and even nut allergies, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

It also reveals that pupils are being taken on fewer school trips due to too much form-filling, a lack of time, funding and safety fears.

Almost three in 10 (29%) of the heads, teachers and support staff questioned said British bulldog has been banned in their school, while 14% said pupils are forbidden from playing conkers and nearly one in 10 (9%) said leapfrog had been banned.

Some 5% said children were prevented from playing marbles and the same percentage said chasing games like tag had been banned.

One primary school teacher told researchers: "Apparently the main problem with conkers is that nut allergy sufferers are increasingly allergic to them."

"Bulldog is banned because of the number of broken bones it generates," a secondary school teacher said.

In total, one in six (15%) of those questioned said fewer playground games and sports are played at their school now than three years ago.

Three in five (60%) cited the reduced number of staff available to supervise pupils as the reason for this, while more than half (55%) said it was due to teachers' concerns over pupil safety.

More than two in five (42%) said there was a fear of being sued if something went wrong in a game.


From Belfast Telegraph