Telling classmates about your weekend has been a traditional start to the school week for generations. But the innocent activity is set to be barred by a council which says it risks stigmatising underprivileged children who might not have done anything during their two days off.
The idea, dismissed as political correctness in overdrive, is being adopted by Brighton and Hove Council as part of a programme called Poverty Proofing The School Day.
Aiming to ‘minimise the barriers to learning’, the £150,000 two-year scheme is run by Children North East, a charity that works with local authorities across the country.
Along with measures to ensure pupils have access to cheap uniforms, the scheme focuses on issues that ‘could be seen to negatively impact on young people living in poverty’.
Aiming to ‘minimise the barriers to learning’, the £150,000 two-year scheme is run by Children North East, a charity that works with local authorities across the country (stock image)
These include ‘Circle Time about what you did at the weekend’ and other activities that risk some pupils having to admit: ‘I haven’t done anything.’ Educationalists and politicians criticised the scheme, saying schools that tried to shield pupils from reality were failing to teach them valuable life lessons.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘Schools need to be sensitive towards those of more limited means when it comes to organising trips and activities that may be out of the reach of some families. They shouldn’t assume that everyone will be able to afford them. But it is a fact of life that some families are better off than others, and children cannot and should not be shielded from that. It is all part of learning that we live in a world of diversity.’
Former Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, Tory MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said: ‘Yet again, Brighton and Hove is trying to micro-manage children’s lives and take the nanny state to new heights. It’s part of their obsession with political correctness. Children need to be allowed to be children.’
The scheme also warns schools that bringing in used cartons/packets for craft projects could have a negative impact on poorer pupils, who may face jibes if they use ‘own-brand’ items rather than premium labels. And, it claims, children who bring in birthday presents to show their peers could make disadvantaged classmates feel ‘uncomfortable’, while pupils who give teachers gifts could make them feel ‘pressure’.
Children North East’s Luke Bramhall last night defended the scheme, saying it stemmed from the direct feedback of children.
‘The process is about thinking what this is like for the poorest child in your class, your school,’ he said. ‘How does it feel if you’re the child that never goes anywhere at the weekend? The clear message from children is that it can be very difficult, and awkward.
‘It is one of many areas we look at within poverty proofing, alongside not having the money for trips or music tuition, and being identified as eligible for free school meals.’
Brighton and Hove has been dubbed Britain’s most politically correct council. In 2011, it tried to ban bin crews from eating bacon sandwiches on ‘meat-free Mondays’ and last month it encouraged staff to wear badges stating their preferred ‘gender pronoun’.
The council did not respond to requests for comment.
Children North East’s Luke Bramhall last night defended the scheme, saying it stemmed from the direct feedback of children (stock image)