I get it. I really do. I understand why schools’ want to appear to be inclusive and pro student. But is it really helping the student prepare for entry into an adult world or is it setting them up for failure.

Take sports day – Back in the dim, dark ages when I was a child sports’ day consisted of different events – races, hurdles, the hop, step and jump and pole vaulting for example. The classes practised the events and chose their best performer, who then lined up for the race or other event on the allotted Sports Day.

The prize for competing was a ribbon for first, second and third place. The class cheered their chosen representative on and their was a sense of pride if their classmate was the winner.

Today everyone gets a ‘Participant’ ribbon whether or not the student has actually done anything. There is no longer a first, second or third placing, because they want every child to feel as though they’re a winner, that they have achieved something, even if that is as a spectator.

I get the idea but seriously this doesn’t teach them that in reality not everyone wins. During my years, we learnt that if we weren’t selected to compete, it was because we weren’t fast enough, or we couldn’t jump high enough. Those that came first, second or third knew they were good enough on the day and won. Was there disappointment?

Sure there was, but in life you get disappointed, but we learnt to deal with that disappointment and try harder the following year. By giving everyone a ‘Participant’ ribbon it teaches them that it doesn’t matter if you compete or not, you win by just turning up – and that is not how it works in the real world.

Banning of certain foods – aka ‘Nut Allergy’. I understand that banning nuts is to protect those who have nut allergies. I get that it would be terrible if a student had a reaction to nuts and wind up in hospital or worse but in the real world, once outside of school and in the workforce, businesses don’t have to cater for and usually don’t cater for those with allergies. They have a policy in place for ‘just in case’ but they don’t ban others from bringing in food with nuts or potentially other foods which could cause an allergic reaction.

Why? Because they’re adults and they should be allowed to eat what they feel like. Now, if people choose not to bring certain foods out of respect for someone with an allergy, that is a choice. But banning foods at school is not helping them to develop a plan to deal with being in the vicinity of nuts.

There is research being done which is showing good results in those that are allergic, that when exposed to small doses which over time are increased their reaction takes longer to kick in. So maybe the schools are doing more harm than good in their micro-management.

Banning Clapping – Seriously, now some schools are banning clapping out of respect for those with a sensitivity to noise. So students are allowed to do air punches and wriggle about to show their excitement.

These same schools also have a ‘Friend’ chair whereby if a student is feeling lonely at playtime, they sit on the chair and the other students are encouraged to include them in their games or to join their group.

The problem is that it doesn’t prepare them for the real world. When they leave school there is no ‘Friend’ chair for them to sit on and there is a lot of noise in workplaces, so they may as well learn ways to cope or deal with their issues now, rather than be protected in a safe environment, and then learn how to deal with their issue when they enter the real world.

The issue with this and other policies is that the real world isn’t fair. There are winners and losers, not everyone has friends, there is a lot of loneliness in the real world. Schools want to prepare students for the real world, but in reality they are setting children up for failure, because when the child realises that he/she doesn’t get points for just turning up, or that there is no friend chair or their co-worker brings nut products to work, it creates more problems because they don’t know how to cope in the real world.


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