QUEENSLAND, Australia – Students and parents at Peregian Springs State School are flipping out after officials banned unsupervised playground cartwheels and handstands to prevent injuries.
Two children at the school have been injured recently – one broke a wrist, the other was kicked in the head – while performing “cheerleader type stunts,” prompting principal Gwen Sands to issue a ban on Monday in the school’s newsletter, SunshineCoastDaily.au reports.
“All students have been advised that under no circumstances are they allowed to perform cart wheels, handstands or any other type of gymnastic move at school unless they are properly supervised by a trained PE teacher,” according to the announcement. “It would be appreciated if you could remind your children about the safety issues involved with these types of moves.”
The news site reports the announcement “caused a stir and left many parents wondering what would be next on the ‘ban’ wagon.”
“When are we going to let kids just be kids?” local government minister David Crisafulli questioned. “I respect the right of the school to protect their students but I also respect the right of children to have a happy childhood, and surely we can find a middle ground in all of this.”
Parent Jess Jackman-Ferguson told Sunshine Coast Daily that her six-year-old son is convinced the “silly rule” is designed to suck all of the fun out of school.
Others, like parent Melissa Forrester, contend that the cartwheel ban is simply the latest in a line of other no fun policies in the school district.
Her children were banned from playing with their friends immediately before or after class.
“They have to sit quietly and wait in designated areas or in their classrooms for school to begin,” she said.
“Everything is becoming more and more strict and they are allowed to be kids less and less,” another disgruntled parent told Sunshine Coast Daily. “I know a lot of other parents also feel it is ridiculous.
“If our children fell off play equipment, would they take that away too?”
Judging by principal Sands’ comments about the recent schoolyard injuries, it is a possibility.
When the school reports injuries “parents, the general public and the (education) Department expect us to implement measures to mitigate the chances of it occurring again,” she said.
“We have 820 students in our playground. There is also much concrete, corners and brick walls to negotiate.
“When children are doing complex activities such as gymnastics and the type of maneuvers required in cheerleading, they need to be supervised – both for their own safety and for the safety of other children on the playground.
“Further to this, the Department’s Policy and Procedures Manual requires trained personnel and gym mats be available when students are participating in activities requiring inverted positions. This includes cartwheels and handstands.”
At least one former school principal, however, believes the cartwheel ban is more about protecting school employees than students.
“Having sat in a principal’s chair and having had to deal with the fallout from unrealistic parents wanting to sue the teacher on playground duty when kids will be kids doing what kids should do, and break an arm or leg, I can understand the decision, as much as it saddens me,” the unnamed former principal told Sunshine Coast Daily.
“I would hope there is another solution rather than outright banning of an activity because it’s not the kids who are being protected by this ruling, it is the teachers and their careers.”
A reader poll on the news site shows 74 percent think school officials should let “kids be kids,” while 1 percent believe more protection is needed. About 14 percent think it depends on the circumstances and 9 percent believe schools should give students “a bit more freedom.”