Letchworth pupils go bonkers for conkers

A SCHOOL has defied a culture of “health and safety gone mad” by encouraging pupils to play conkers.

Wilbury Junior School in Letchworth GC decided to allow the British favourite, which involves each player striking their own conker - threaded onto a piece of string - against an opponent’s conker until one breaks, after finding out that allowing such games is up to each individual school.

“We have a large horse chestnut tree in our grounds and we noticed that children were busy gathering conkers from the floor,” said headteacher John Cattermole.

“When we asked them if they knew how to play conkers, we found that most of them didn’t.

“It seemed such a shame that this generation of children didn’t know how to play; we haven’t just allowed it, we have actively encouraged it.

“There was a ludicrous story a few years ago about a school somewhere in the country where children had to wear two pairs of safety goggles to play. This seemed like health and safety gone mad to me, so we showed the children how to play in assembly, let them come up with key things to remember to ensure they played safely, and then off they have gone.”

Mr Cattermole added: “We sent a letter home to parents and we have had an overwhelmingly positive response – some parents have even had a go themselves in the morning!”

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The Bedford Road-based school is now planning to have a competition for pupils to see who is the greatest ‘conqueror’.

Deputy headteacher, Richard Springall, who has been busy drilling holes in conkers for children, added: “It’s great to see so many children smiling and enjoying this traditional game.

“It is good for hand/eye coordination, and promotes maths thinking as the children score their own games.”

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