Friday 14 September 2012

Earrings at School PE

At the beginning of the summer holidays, my 8 year-old step-daughter had he ears pierced, as did a number of her classmates.

Unfortunately, upon her return to school, her piercings have not healed enough for her to be able to remove the studs.  Since our Local Education Authority has a policy of absolutely no jewellery in PE lessons, and has said she will not be able to take part in PE without removing her earrings, I contacted the Association for Physical Eduction ( by twitter ( to ask what their advice would be so that she wouldn't miss out on her lessons.

Within a few minutes I had an excellent reply from Simon Leach, Membership & Communications Officer.  I have included the response below to help any parents who are confused or concerned, and make sure we are all approaching the schools we work together with to provide our children the best education we can.  I hope this helps.

Hi Jim,

Here’s some info about earrings in PE.

Kind regards,

Simon Leach
Membership & Communications Officer
Association for Physical Education



The attached memo follows:

afPE Health and Safety Update – January 2011
Well this is my first offering for the H & S update, having taken over the Safety Officer role from Glen as from the start of this year.  I have already had a wide variety of enquiries through the helpline, and have chosen to recap here on a familiar issue which can cause headaches for primary and secondary alike, earrings and PE.
The enquiries on this subject have come from irate parents who want to clarify what the correct line is,  and so schools need to be sure they are clear, and that their PE policies, and/or school prospectus outline exactly what they intend.
Whilst it would be ideal if ears were pierced at the start of the summer holidays, given six weeks to settle and are then ready to remove for PE lessons as from September, this is frequently not achieved.    Where a Local Authority has a “no jewellery” statement in their policy, schools must follow that policy.  For those authorities who have adopted afPE’s Safe Practice guidance as the basis for their H & S policy for PE, this advocates that earrings are removed before a PE lesson. Where this cannot happen one alternative is that the earrings can be covered with tape by the pupil, or the parent before coming to school.  However it is still the responsibility of the member of staff leading the lesson to ensure that the tape is doing the job intended, and then to assess if this is sufficient precaution to allow the pupil to take part, either fully or partially in the planned lesson.
Where neither the earrings can be removed, or taped over, the member of staff still has a legal duty to consider how the pupil can participate in the lesson in some way. This process of assessment could involve considering amending the tasking, using different equipment etc. although having gone through this process the decision may still be that safe active participation is not possible.  Alternatives at this point could include allowing the pupil to be part of the planning aspect, in a gymnastics sequence, discussing and evaluating tactics within a game playing activity, or taking on an officiating role. (Safe Practice, 2008 pg 100 -14.2.2.)
What has got the parent’s collective goat in recent enquiries I have received has been:
  •  A school who ‘changed’ their policy but failed to update their website with this amendment.
  •  A school who totally excluded two sisters from PE because they could not remove the earrings.
  •  A lack of willingness to come to some agreed action to deal with the situation.
In reality this should be a straightforward issue to deal with; set policy, clear communication, flexibility to ensure learning continues to take place, are really the three things that need to be considered.
Angela James
afPE Safety Officer