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Are we bonkers for banning conkers?

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Autumn - the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness when parents across the country breathe a sigh of relief that their little darlings are back at school and into a new routine. 

Autumn of course, brings its own delights for children, such as the thrill of finding the biggest conker, and being crowned ‘Conker champion’. 

However many school staff and education authorities are taking the view that conkers, and other traditional  playground games such as "British Bulldog" and "tag" carry their own risks. 

A recent survey, carried out by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, found that 29% of staff had banned British Bulldog, 14% conkers, and 9% leapfrog in their playgrounds.

As one teacher put it: "Bulldog has had to be banned because of the number of broken bones it creates".

The survey also revealed that fewer children are being taken on school trips, and that the use of playground equipment has to be carefully monitored, with appropriate staffing levels being key.  

Who can forget the now infamous newspaper headline from a few years ago concerning the head teacher in Cumbria who was prepared to let his pupils play conkers, but only if they wore safety goggles to prevent eye injuries? This prompted much debate at the time, and some scorn. However Peter Cornall of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has commented that conkers can also cause an allergic reaction in some people. 

However should we be treating our children with kid gloves? Or do we take the view that a bit of "rough and tumble" in the playground won't do them any harm? Statistically, many hundreds or even thousands of children are injured at school each academic year. School staff have a duty to act "in loco parentis" meaning that teachers should be taking the same care of a child at school as their parent would.

Take the tragic case of the 5-year-old boy who died after falling from a playground climbing frame on September 15th this year at Tolworth Infant and Nursery School in Surbiton, Surrey. 

This horrific accident is currently being investigated by police, the local authority and the Health and Safety Executive. Yes, children should be allowed to play and be children, but at what cost?

If you have a child who has been injured at school, Stephensons Solicitors LLP have a team of personal injury specialists who can give advice on making a claim for compensation, call us on 01616 966 229

By personal injury executive, Pauline Smith