In which school rules really take the biscuit


Silly season might be only a warm, distant dream from our current point of perpetual Narnia, but thanks to an over-cautious Canvey Island headteacher we’ve had a lovely glimpse of it this week. Catering staff at Castle View School were banned from cutting flapjacks into triangles after one hit a boy in the face – resulting in an injury I’m insisting on calling an ‘oats-so-dimple’, even if nobody else will.

Having first googled to check that no lasting damage was caused by the pointy pudding (“sore eye” says The Telegraph), I’d like to say thank you, triangularflapjackgate, for giving us a lovely break from all the gloom. If such an incident could be rustled up once a week to give everybody that way inclined the chance to bray “it’s health and safety gone maaaaaaad” for half an hour, we’d all probably be a lot calmer and less inclined to jostle each other on the tube.

But while bizarre rulings on cake geometry make the tabloids, there are plenty of equally nonsensical laws being enforced in schools across the land every day, without so much as a eyelid-bat from the Daily Mail.

When I was a pupil at a certain be-hatted East Worthing girls’ high, for example, it was all about socks. Socks were a big deal. The key to our futures lay in our ankles; covered ankles meant success, exposed ankles meant failure followed by eventual death in a gutter. As prefects we spent hours telling the throngs to pull their socks up, quite literally, while desperately wishing we could run behind the bike sheds and roll down our own. Lesser offences included wearing hair accessories that weren’t the regulation navy blue, and walking the wrong way up a corridor.

A few years previously it had all been about handwriting. Creative handwriting was forbidden at my middle school (royal blue-jumpered, if you’re playing local detective) – presumably because it meant we would later become performance artists, or try to start a chain of vegan juice bars. I spent two years stubbornly dotting my ‘I’s with little balloons and contraband flicks on my ‘g’s and ‘y’s, just to stick it to the man.

Then there was the rule that said we all had to go outside for playtime, even when it was freezing. We were routinely rounded up from our hiding spot in the cosiest corner of the cloakroom and booted out into the icy abyss.

Whether this was supposed to have a profound, character-building effect I can’t be sure, but I can tell you it didn’t work – as an adult with full agency over her temperature, I’ve spent the past three months on a reverse survival mission to stay in my house as long as humanly possible. When I’m forced to go outside for sustenance or loo roll, a little voice in my head says “Lauren Bravo, outside NOW or you lose a house point.”

I would have welcomed a jabby flapjack attack, to be honest. At least I could have eaten it afterwards.