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Girls' school head condemns bubblewrapping of kids

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A former British Army Lancer turned girls' school headmaster is the latest to come out against the practice of bubblewrapping children.

Robert McKenzie Johnston, head of the private Queen Mary’s School in Yorkshire, told the Girls Schools Association conference that the safety-conscious culture was being used as an excuse for not doing things and was undermining the "soul" of childhood, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Rather than enclosing his charges in bubblewrap, or the equally moral-fibre-sapping cotton wool, he was happy for them to toboggan down stairs and go walking in the woods at night without a torch.

"I think the girls need to assess risk themselves," he told the conference. As part of this, he said, he is also happy for students to swim in the river on the school grounds to help foster their love of the great outdoors.

According to the school's website, other activities on offer include judo, shooting, canoeing and, of course, pottery. Not to mention riding.

Johnston has touched a raw nerve in a country raised on images of the fearless students of the fictional St Trinians, yet afraid that its moral courage and very muscular moral fibre is being sapped by health and safety bureaucrats intent on wrapping the nation's youth in sundry figurative protective substances. No one's said anything yet, but we're confident that Jiffy bags, scrunched-up newspapers, polystyrene beads, tin foil, and tissue paper will be appearing on the hit list pretty soon.

Last month, TV parenting guru Tanya Byron warned that bubblewrapped children were more likely to fall prey to net predators.

Schools secretary Ed Balls warned of the danger of wrapping children in cotton wool earlier this year, saying kids should spend their time having conker and snowball fights. But not at the same time, presumably.

Even the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has clambered (with all due care, following a thorough risk assessment report) onto the bandwagon - it said that playgrounds had become too safe, meaning that thrill-seeking kids were turning to that other old standby, the railway tracks. ®

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