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Headteacher defends clay pigeon shoot at Eastbourne school
A head teacher under fire for allowing eight-year-olds to take part in clay pigeon shooting has defended his decision – warning children will have “no experiences” if they are wrapped up in cotton wool.
Mike Fairclough, of West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne, was criticised by anti-gun groups after taking his pupils on a countryside activities day, which included shooting.
Speaking to The Argus he stood by his decision and said he would have “no problem” doing the same again.
The Times Educational Supplement reported on the school’s extra-curricular activity earlier this month.
During the day, which took place in July, the youngsters took to the school’s 120 acres of marshland to learn about the environment and country life.
Activities included fly fishing, working with gun dogs and bird watching.
But an organised clay pigeon shoot landed him in hot water.
In stories on the BBC and in the Daily Mail anti-gun groups condemned the school and teacher.
The Gun Control Net- work branded the day as “dangerous” while group Parents Outloud said he was “heading down a dangerous path”.
But the under-fire headteacher stood by his methods.
He said: “We don’t need to wrap everyone up in cotton wool saying ‘don’t do this and don’t do that’.
"The way we are going children will have no experiences to look back on.
“We give children stainless steel knives at lunchtime.
"Knives are used to kill people with. Are we going to ban knives?
“All humans in general are good people who make the right decisions.”
The school is rated good with excellent features by Ofsted, something Mr Fairclough attributes to his methods.
He added: “I believe in what I’m doing. I will carry on regardless.
"However, if the media continues to make a big deal out of schools trying something different then they just won’t bother.
“And the idea that I’ve got angry parents outside the school gates with pitchforks is ridiculous.”
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