Minister slams Newquay school's charity wristband ban as "absolute nonsense"
A Government minister has slammed a Newquay secondary school for banning charity wristbands on health and safety grounds, claiming it is “absolute nonsense”.
Minister of State Mike Penning was “outraged” that Karen Ross, head teacher at Treviglas Community College, had asked a year 11 boy to remove his Help for Heroes wristband for health and safety reasons.
The former soldier spoke out in light of an article published in the Cornish Guardian yesterday, which revealed that Treviglas pupils were being asked to remove wristbands in corridors and classrooms.
The college defended its actions at the time, claiming it was uniform policy that no bracelets or wristbands are to be worn in college due to health and safety reasons – and that there are no exceptions.
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But today, Mr Penning condemned the school’s health and safety reasoning.
He said: “It's an absolute nonsense to claim that Help for Heroes wristbands pose a health and safety risk at school.
“If there is a uniform policy banning them - then a school shouldn't hide behind ridiculous health and safety excuses.
“This is exactly why we set up the challenge panel - to bust these kinds of myths."
This newspaper was contacted last week by an angry mother claiming that her son, whose dad served in the Armed Forces, was asked to remove his charity band by Mrs Ross at the college last week.
The charity was formed to support those who have been wounded in Britain’s current conflicts.
The boy’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said her family had lost people in conflict and was furious at the school’s charity band policy.
Today she told us she was “very happy” that Mr Penning had picked up on the issue and supported her plight.
She said: “Both my husband and I said that health and safety was a poor excuse. I am glad to be getting my message across.
“It should be encouraged [to wear bands] for charity.
“If they are doing metal work and they are drilling, it is understandable but when they’re using a pencil, no.
“They wear long sleeves; [the bands] would be covered up. But they shouldn’t have to cover them up. They wear them to show what they believe in.”
Treviglas has defended its actions, stating it is made clear in the college’s uniform policy that no wristbands or bracelets are allowed in the college for health and safety reasons.
In a statement it said: “The fact that we do not allow students to wear bands does not mean that we do not recognise the excellent work many charities, including this one, do.
“Students who wear bands/bracelets (and most students adhere to the uniform policy on a daily basis) are spoken to by members of staff and asked to remove it/them.”
The college has yet to comment on Mr Penning’s response.
The public can now challenge official decisions which are taken on the grounds of ‘health and safety’ through the Department for Work and Pensions Health and Safety Executive Myth Busters Challenge Panel.
For more information visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/index.htm