One of the initiation ceremonies at my school was to have your head stuck down the lavatory while it was flushed. Oh, and another was to be chased around the playing field and generally terrorised by a group of older boys trying to hit you with a football sock filled with sand.
It wasn’t just the other kids you had to watch out for though. Pain could also be inflicted by teachers via a cane or, worse still, a spiked running shoe.
Then there was the man who took us for physics and got the attention of daydreaming pupils by hurling the wooden chalkboard rubber-outer at their heads with unerring accuracy.
Could you imagine that happening today? I’m not suggesting we should go back to the days when the threat of physical assault was part and parcel of the school day.
But I fear we have gone far too far in the other direction, wrapping today’s little darlings in too much cotton wool.
I blame the PC brigade and the rise of the ‘compensation culture’ that has got schools running scared of facing payouts for the most innocuous of incidents.
A boy at a school in Yorkshire received £5,750 in compensation after being ‘splashed on the hand with custard’. Apparently, another pupil bumped into him and cause said custard to spill. I’m not making this up.
Another pupil was paid £3,000 after suffering cuts from rose bushes, while one got just over £5,000 after being injured swinging on a tree.
Meanwhile a council in Gloucestershire paid out £7,000 after a teacher injured a pupil when demonstrating how to perform a rugby tackle.
The total cost of this sort of madness was £2m last year – and it’s our money that’s being spent settling these crazy claims. The truth is that accidents will always happen, particularly where clumsy children are involved.
But it’s not just physical harm that can trigger a payout. One kid got £5,000 after he suffered ‘anxiety’ when a lack of teacher supervision gave him the opportunity to wander off.
Bless. How are these poor lambs going to manage when they’re eventually let out into the big, wide world to fend for themselves?