A school has banned the blowing of the final whistle at the end of play time because it is “too aggressive” and could cause alarm to the children.
Staff at the primary school must instead raise a hand in the air to mark the end of playground breaks and wait for the 120 youngsters to notice the signal.
The ban at St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Milton Keynes, Bucks., was revealed in a letter to Country Life magazine by teaching assistant Pamela Cunningham.
Ms Cunningham, who has been at the school for 26 years, said staff feared that in an emergency children might not see their raised hands.
So she keeps a back-up whistle in her pocket – “just in case”.
Her letter read: “I thoroughly enjoyed the article about whistles (May 4), however, at the primary school where I have worked for more than 26 years, the blowing of the whistle to signal the end of playtime has now been banned.
“It’s thought to be too aggressive and some children may be afraid of the noise.
“We now have to raise a hand in the air and hope that the children, all 120 of them, can see it and stop playing.
“God forbid that we should have to gather the children in an emergency – I still keep my bone, hand-carved dog whistle in my pocket just in case.”
But the move has been slammed by a top child psychologist, who says health and safety is fundamentally eradicating childhood.
Emma Kenny, who has over 20 years experience as a psychological therapist and lectures at Manchester University, said she is yet to meet a child who is afraid of whistles.
She said: “I do not know where the basis of their evidence has come from but if a child is taught the alarm system – there is no reason for it to be feared.
“Loud bangs can be intimidating to children but we need to let them know they shouldn’t be afraid of loud noises as it isn’t realistic.
“I think we are at a time where health and safety is fundamentally eradicating childhood.
“From my many years of experience with children and working with primary schools, I am yet to find a child who is scared of a whistle.”
Ms Kenny referred to “cotton wool parenting” and said it doesn’t teach children that we can live in a world with loud noises.
She added: “It is ridiculous. I am completely behind the teacher in what she has said. Show me a playground where children are cowering in the corner and then I’ll reconsider it.
“But what about things like the Olympics where they use starter guns and things like that.
“I think we are underestimating children – we have forgotten how resilient they actually are.”
St Monica’s is a Voluntary Aided Catholic Primary School for boys and girls between the ages of three and 11 years and there are 467 children on roll including at the school and nursery.
Ofsted gave the school a “good” raring and the report said: “St Monica’s Catholic Primary is a good school. Parents and carers appreciate the strong family ethos, excellent quality care and enjoyable learning opportunities provided by the school.
“Its motto, ‘Let Trust, Respect and Love live here’, permeates the whole school and contributes significantly to the strong sense of common values underpinned by the positive, Catholic ethos.”
The school has been contacted for comment.
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