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Children banned from playing tag in school playground

February 11, 2007
Children banned from playing tag in school playground
Danger? Headmistress has outlawed 'physical' games

In an age when childhood innocence is under threat from every direction, the traditional game of tag would seem an unlikely offender.

But headmistress Susan Tuck doesn't think so. She has banned it along with all other games which involve physical contact as "inappropriate behaviour".

Youngsters aged five to 11 at Bracebridge Heath Primary School near Lincoln have been told there will be no kiss-chase, and even linking arms with each other will not be allowed.

The only time any of the 400 pupils can touch each other is if they need to help a classmate who has fallen over.

Mrs Tuck became concerned that playground games were becoming too rough after a number of instances of bumped heads.

She said the next move would be slowly to reintroduce "supervised and appropriate physical contact between pupils".

"A minority of pupils persistently offended on the playground," she said. "That needed to be dealt with.

"I told the children we should start by having no physical contact to start this on a level playing field.

"I couldn't say to the boys that they couldn't play certain games and then allow the girls to go around linking arms.

"I think on the first day the children thought 'how is this going to work?' Now I have spoken to some of them and they think the playground has become a lot calmer.

"Pupils are more creative, playing games like shadow tig to replace the real thing. Rather than shoving each other roughly on the back you try to jump on their shadow."

The school's move is the latest in a series of instances across Britain where traditional games have been deemed dangerous. Conkers and even football are among those which have paid the price of caution.

On its website, Bracebridge Heath primary states: "Our children thrive in an environment in which every child is made to feel happy and secure."

But parents at the school appeared more bemused than supportive over the ban.

One said: "I can't say I'm happy with it. I can't see it does much for children learning to play together."

Another said: "Children have been playing games like this for centuries. To ban them from touching each other is just ridiculous."

John Giblin, a spokesman for Lincolnshire council's education department, said: "It is up to individual schools and governors to decide what they do in their playtimes."

Liz Carnell, of the charity Bullying Online, said: "Parents these days are very quick to complain if a child does get hurt at school so maybe the school is just trying to cover this eventuality.

"But I don't think this will stop bullying as it will never stop namecalling. Supervised games with an older child or a teacher watching is perhaps the answer."