"Schoolchildren Facing Paddling BanYes, that's right. Children in England may no longer wade at shore's edge before, after or during school trips.
Before shoes and socks are removed for an ankle-deep walk at the water's edge, organisers must put 'proper measures in place' to stop paddlers getting into trouble or suffering from hypothermia after a quick dip in the sea."
"Required checks at the coast – as well as at rivers and ponds – include looking for sharp stones and strong currents.
Under guidance entitled 'Avoiding impromptu water-based activities', the Department for Children, Schools and Families warns: 'The pleas of children or young people to bathe – because it is hot weather, for example, or after a kayaking exercise – should be resisted where the bathing has not been prepared for.'
The guidance says that paddling and other 'in-water activities' should take place 'only when a proper risk assessment has been completed and proper measures put in place to control the risks'.
Teaching staff will have to dip their toes in first – because the department rules state that assessment is best made 'preferably in the water so that unseen submerged hazards can be identified'.
If a beach is cleared for children to enter the sea, no child should be able to swim deeper than waist height, adds the guidance.
It says: 'Be aware of the dangerous effects of sudden immersion in cold water, also of the dangers of paddling, especially for children or in rough seas.'"
Now I'm not against being careful. And checking things out. But that is common sense, and in my not-so-humble opinion, not regulated.
At least two politicians weighed in, but hey, what can two people do?
"Geoffrey Cox, Tory MP for Torridge and West Devon, said the guidance was 'astonishing'.
'I thought we were supposed to be paddling in the opposite direction to this and making children's visits easier,' he said.
'It is profoundly regrettable to require schools to impose more regulations on children designed to prevent risk.
'There is always going to be some risk and of course schools ought to ensure outings are properly staffed, but yet more box-ticking will simply stifle them in the classroom.'
Julia Goldsworthy, MP for Falmouth and Camborne, said: 'A public beach will have lifeguards. I don't understand why this particular issue needs to be singled out in guidance. Presumably they should also factor in getting sand in their sandwiches.'"
What is, of course, left out is any true justification of why these rules are necessary. No statistics of children who cut a toe on a sharp rock, or got knocked over by an unexpected wave. Their entire justification:
"...the Department for Children said teachers had to plan activities carefully: 'We are not banning paddling. We have seen cases in the past where things have not been planned and assessed for the risk. Unplanned activities around water can be dangerous.'"I won't argue that playing around water can be dangerous - but only if everyone there, including lifeguards, turn off their brains and stare in the opposite direction.
Just another childhood pleasure being regulated out of existence.