The Chicken or the Health and Safety Reg

WHEN primary school teacher Jean Williams decided to teach children where baby chickens came from, little did she know that she would come up against the brick wall of health and safety law. Mrs Williams, who teaches Year 2 at Fordham Primary School, dec

WHEN primary school teacher Jean Williams decided to teach children where baby chickens came from, little did she know that she would come up against the brick wall of health and safety law.

Mrs Williams, who teaches Year 2 at Fordham Primary School, decided to buy an incubator and let her pupils watch the chicks hatch, but when the school secretary put in a call to check the health and safety implications, questions were asked about whether the incubator had been 'appliance tested', where the eggs would be sourced from, if they would be salmonella free, and whether the chicks would hatch at home or at school.

"I don't blame Cambridgeshire County Council or the LEA at all," said head teacher Kevin Bullock. "It's just the received wisdom of the day, and generally our country has gone politically correct.

"My point was not that they weren't right in flagging up electrical safety and these other areas, but if you are in my shoes and you are constantly being told 'what if this or that goes wrong,' it puts you off."


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But in the end, Fordham staff thought creatively and decided not to be beaten and installed a bird box in the playground, hooked up live CCTV cameras so that Year 2 could watch 24-7 footage of hatching blue tit chicks while they get on with their literacy and numeracy, blissfully unaware of health and safety law.

"The blue tit constructed a nest before their very eyes and the eggs hatched last week, Mr Bullock told the Ely Standard. "It's been absolutely fascinating and I don't think the children have lost out at all. These things are all common sense, and we don't want to prevent children learning because of a compensation culture among a small minority of adults who want someone to blame as soon as anything goes wrong.

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