In the ongoing battle between health and safety and literally everything else in the world, one school has taken the rather baffling move to ban school bags.
Sixth formers at Spalding Grammar School have been told they can no longer take large bags to lessons in case they injure younger pupils. Instead, they’ve been told to carry books by hand between classes.
An edict claimed ‘injury was being caused to younger students as a result of sixth formers carrying ever-larger bags on their shoulders.’
The ban said that bags could used to bring books to school, but they are not permitted in lessons during the day. Students were encouraged to ‘carry books by hand for a maximum of two lessons at a time.’
Not long after the rule was enforced, an online petition was started, quickly gaining more than 450 signatures.
Many students and parents complained to the school about the ‘absurd’ rule, which saw pupils transfers books from their regular bags into plastic carrier bags for lessons.
One smart-arse, however, came up with a way around the rule with an even more ridiculous option – by carrying his books in a totally not cumbersome and not awkward to carry microwave.
Yup, 17-year-old Jacob Ford saw the microwave and its potential as a vessel for school books, and just went for it. What a maverick!
His ‘silent protest’, however, landed the A-level student in hot water, as the school suspended him for two days.
He also outlined his thoughts in a 3,000 word ‘document of defence’ titled ‘Bags in Sixth Form – My Thoughts and A Potential Solution’ that he gave to headteacher Steven Wilkinson and other members of staff.
In the document, Jacob chronicles the events leading up to the ban and reasons behind it as ‘health and safety’.
The reasons for them changing is for one reason and one reason only which has been hammered into all of our brains over the course of the several assemblies that we’ve had.
Health and safety. Or more specifically, the year sevens and one member of staff. These people have been struck in the face or knocked backwards by our bags swinging around in the corridor.
Once again, I do not doubt this ever happening. But is the best solution really to outright ban backpacks? Surely a compromise can be made.
Jacob claims the new bag policy forces students to risk their health and shell out cash.
With most issues money is going to be involved, this case being no exception to that rule. I believe that paying for a new bag which fits the school’s updated regulations is outrageous.
Especially this close to the start of the academic year, when many students have recently paid for new rucksacks, not knowing of the rule changes.
These bags are effectively part our school uniform and should be purchased once a year at a maximum. So me or my parents having to fork out around £40 for a new bag which fits with the school’s policies is outrageous.
Jacob’s mother said:
At the end of the day, I believe in freedom of speech and so I’m very proud of him for standing up for something he believes in. Microwave or no microwave.
The school has declined to comment or provide further details about the bag ban.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.