Monday, 20 July 2009

Watch out - nettles about!

An innocent enough picture - children playing happily in the grounds of a hotel during a family wedding. They were having exploring, creating, being imaginative and just having fun. It was great to watch. They were also learning, research and sharing as they talked about how the bridge got there, why it was there and so on.

It's just a pity that, of the teachers present, just how many muttered things about 'health and safety' and that they could never bring a school trip to this very natural environment. There were after all, stinging nettles, running water, the 'bridge' of railway sleepers had no railings, there may be 'odd bods' (not their words) lurking in the trees and no one had done a risk assessment.

They were joking about it, but were also sadly serious about the message. I just think that we really have gone too far in many ways on health and safety. It is bonkers to read about staff banning trips, or having to wear goggles to use blu-tak, or read a five page instruction booklet before using glue sticks.

Staff are in a real predicament - they want to do these things but now cannot afford for anything out of the ordinary to happen and definitely not an accident. The blame (and litigation) culture has spoilt lots of these activities for students and the staff who used to enjoy running them.

Having said that, as a parent, I would not want anything to happen to my daughters. But there must be a balance somewhere - surely?

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