'Safety gone mad'- Parents' outrage over school ban on running in playground
Parents of children at a primary school in Cornwall launched a petition last week calling for a ban on running in the playground to be overturned.
The running ban at Hillfort Primary School in Liskeard was introduced by headmaster Dr Tim Cook in order to prevent injury. As part of the same initiative a new set of break time activities, including Lego, Jenga and dancing, was introduced in an effort to reduce ‘negative behaviours’.
More than 150 parents signed the petition, which urged the school to “enable and empower children’s right and freedom to run freely through spontaneous, child led play, in the playground during lunch time break.
“Stopping children running during free play due to bumping into each other is health and safety gone mad,” it continued.
“Do not allow ‘health and safety’ to remove the liberty to spontaneously run in the playground during imaginative and child-led play.
“Please look at and consider alternative options to reduce risk, as required without removing liberty to move freely during play.
“Please consider staggered lunch break times, extending the size of the playground to meet the needs of pupils or other creative alternatives to removing the right to play freely in the playground.”
Headmaster Dr Cook defended the ban and stressed that children are still permitted to run in some areas.
In a letter to parents he said: “What we have done is to stop running directly across the playground where some children had been hurt by others running into one another.
“Children are now more confident to play on the traditional playground games (e.g. hopscotch) which are in the centre of the playground. We think this is because children know they won’t be knocked into.
“In the three days that we have been running this new set of activities, the children seem to have enjoyed them and negative behaviours have reduced significantly.
“As ever, we will review the provision over the next couple of weeks like we would do any policy.
“This decision has been taken in the interests of children’s safety and I hope that parents/carers will support this.”
Leah Browning,whose son attends the school and who organised the online petition, has since retracted it following discussions with the Dr Cook.