Sunday, 17 May 2009

Skool Politix

Agents of Change: Lurking in the Shadows

What I don't understand are the mysterious ways in which certain forces* manage to get their way sometimes. Maybe they slip through when we're not looking, maybe they're extra persuasive. Who knows? Apparently, in the interests of Health and Safety, traditional knotted ties are losing favour in British Schools. The UK isn't quite over the class politics that spills over into our schools and the idea of "embrace all"/"one size fits" is borne out of guilt. The latest absurdity, is that knotted ties are now being replaced with a new brand of clip-on ties. The reason? Knotted ties are a noose waiting to strangulate the unsuspecting or to go up in flames in a Science lesson. By the same logic laid out here, anyone wearing sandals on a sunny day is just waiting for that piano to drop on their toes. (I actually thought that uniform designers invested heavily in Teflon to reduce combustibility, but clearly I was misled, so what, do we simply disrobe?)

Health and Safety gone mad

OK, so things change, but I'm irritated at the pomposity of it all, and in particular of people who pontificate from ivory towers. School trips were near enough almost impossible to get clearance for back in England. Nuts, for example, are a forbidden ingredient, so lunch boxes are monitored in case they trigger a bout of reactions from the people around you - but wait for it - so are eggs in some schools because of the very rare allergic reactions that the latter may trigger in others. I had a cousin who was allergic to cucumbers apparently, so perhaps we should outlaw green vegetables too because they make schools dangerous places.

Maybe we should remove doors from schools, because little fingers get trapped sometimes, and then take down the windows because glass breaks. Maybe the desks, chairs and walls are lethal too, so we should opt for round walls and arched doorways - best of all, no walls and ceilings ...

I'm sure I've missed out some obvious school-related hazards here. What next? Glue, scissors? A ban on pencils because they can be sharpened to a point? The ultimate in school safety, of course, would be to ban school altogether. I'm sure the Taliban would approve.

*The Schoolwear Association

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