Toy guns will fire interest in learning

Young boys should be encouraged to play with toy guns and other weapons at nursery to get them interested in education, according to government advice.

Young boys should be encouraged to play with toy guns and other weapons at nursery to get them interested in education, according to government advice.

The guidance told nursery staff to resist their “natural instinct” to stop boys playing with weapons in games with other toddlers.

But teachers condemned the advice, warning that toy guns “symbolise aggression”.

The guidance - Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys' Achievements - was issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.


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It said: “Sometimes practitioners find the chosen play of boys more difficult to understand and value than that of girls.

“They may choose activities in which adults involve themselves least, or play that involves more action and a greater use of the available space, especially outdoors.

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“Images and ideas gleaned from the media are common starting points in boys' play and may involve characters with special powers or weapons.

“Adults can find this type of play particularly challenging and have a natural instinct to stop it.

“This is not necessary as long as practitioners help the boys to understand and respect the rights of other children and to take responsibility for the resources and environment.”

Even as toddlers boys begin falling behind girls in their educational development, a pattern which continues throughout their later years at school.

The guidance aims to help boys improve by “creating the right conditions for boys' learning” before they start formal primary education.

Making use of boys' interests can help them become more engaged in their education, the document suggested.

But the National Union of Teachers criticised the advice on toy guns.

NUT general secretary Steve Sinnott said: “The real problem with weapons is that they symbolise aggression.

“We do need to ensure, whether the playing is rumbustious or not, that there is a respect for your peers, however young they are.”

Children's minister Beverley Hughes defended the advice.

She said: “The guidance simply takes a common-sense approach to the fact that many young children, and perhaps particularly many boys, like boisterous, physical activity.”

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