BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, England – A teaching assistant at St. Monica’s Catholic School in Buckinghamshire is speaking out after school officials banned employees from using whistles on the playground.
For decades, Pamela Cunningham said teachers and staff have used whistles to gather students after recess, but school officials recently banned the practice because the “aggressive” noise may hurt their sensibilities, the Daily Mail reports.
“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,” Cunningham wrote in a letter to Country Line Magazine. “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.”
Manchester University psychologist Emma Kenny told the Daily Mail the new rule really doesn’t make any sense.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Alan Smithers, professor at Buckingham University, seemed to agree with Kenny when questioned about the whistle ban by the Telegraph.
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“We have become extraordinarily over sensitive,” he said. “Does this mean children are not going to be able to play football and hockey because the referees use whistles?”
“ … (W)hat about things like the Olympics where they use starter guns and things like that?” Kenny said. “I think we are underestimating children – we have forgotten how resilient they are.”
St. Monica’s, which serves 467 children aged three to 11, “is a good school,” according to England’s Office for Standards in Education department’s website. “Parents and carers appreciate the strong family ethos, excellent quality of care and enjoyable learning opportunities provided by the school.”
The school’s whistle ban follows similar bans on seemingly harmless school stuff, from a school in Australia that banned students from hugging to a Texas school that banned parents from walking their children to campus, to the recent ban on tossing graduation caps into the air at the University of East Anglia. East Anglia students were told the mortarboard toss is too dangerous, and asked students to mime the toss. East Anglia plans to Photoshop the hats into the picture, the Daily Mail reports.
Most who commented on St. Monica’s whistle ban seem to think it’s a not-so-great sign of the times.
“The pansification of the country continues,” commenter no-no-no-no wrote.
“Considering the world we live in today, kids need to be toughened up more so than ever,” NameNameName added. “If they can’t manage a high pitched noise once a day, what reaction will they get when they look at a newspaper or see some of the news. Headteacher needs a wake up call.”
“God help us all,” Fullers wrote.
“My sentiments entirely,” Happyp added.