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Australian school bans cartwheels in playground

A school in northern Australia will review a ban on cartwheels, handstands and other gymnastic tumbles in the playground after a community backlash, the state education department said Wednesday.

Belgian Gardens State School in Townsville, Queensland, recently banned all unsupervised gymnastic activities outdoors in what it called an effort to protect students from injury.

The policy became nationwide news Tuesday when a parent complained to the Townsville Bulletin newspaper.

Kylie Buschgens said her 10-year-old daughter had been threatened with a suspension last week for doing cartwheels, even on the grass, after students were told of the ban at a recent assembly. She told the newspaper that her daughter and other students now “sit around and do nothing” during recess and lunch breaks because they are not interested in other sports.

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“I thought it was a bit unfair because we always do that sort of stuff at school,” Cali Buschgens, 10, told Sky News television in an interview Wednesday.

State Education Minister Rod Welford suggested the school should overturn its decision.

“This seems like a ridiculous situation,” Welford told reporters. “I would urge the school to review the decision in consultation with their parent community.”

The education department said in a statement Wednesday that the school was reviewing its decision and would work with parents and the community to find a balance between student safety and “their right to engage in gymnastic activities.”

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The issue was expected to dominate a previously scheduled Parents and Citizens meeting Wednesday night.

Welford told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that teachers sometimes feared parents would sue their schools if students are involved in accidents.

“I think the decision by the principal in Townsville the other day was prompted by the fact that increasingly we as a community are wrapping our children in cotton wool,” Welford said. “I think our generation of parents are mollycoddling their children.”


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