Spoilsports R Us..?

For 15 years the children of Wychwood Primary have entertained themselves with crates given to them by the local milkman.

Countless numbers of imaginery (sic) cars, ships and dens have been made out of the 25 crates.

Oh, gawd! You just know what’s coming, don’t you?

But now the stunned children have discovered they have been seized back by Dairy Crest – because of health and safety fears.


Stunned foundation stage leader Anne Bardsley said: “In all the time we have had the crates, we have not had a single child hurt themselves.“They have got no right to make judgements of health and safety on my risk management. It is absolutely outrageous.”

Well, technically, I suppose the crates are their property. And let’s face it, should one of the nippers be hurt, who would the parents come after, you, or Dairy Crest?

Pupils were always supervised and crates helped creative learning, she said.She said: “The children absolutely loved them. They used to make castles, ships and cars out of them, and would put blankets over them to make dens.

They kept asking where they had gone and I had to say the milkman has got in a muddle and taken them away.

“They were quite upset about it, but I am absolutely spitting.”

Crucially, it seems these were never given to the school by Dairy Crest itself.

It is believed the crates were originally left by previous dairy owners, rather than Dairy Crest.

The crates were taken during a delivery without telling the school.

Now, that’s just bad PR…

Still, they are remedying it.

Dairy Crest spokesman Lyndsey Anderson said: “We are sorry to have caused any distressto the children and staff at Wychwood CE Primary School by removing the old milk crates.“We have contacted the school and hope to make it up to them by helping to provide alternative equipment.”

Yet she said: “Whilst we understand their disappointment at losing something they had come to view as playground equipment, it remains a fact that milk crates are not toys and current health and safety guidelines require that they should not be used as such.

“It is not Dairy Crest’s policy to provide crates for anything other than their sole purpose – which is to transport milk bottles.

“It appears that this was not made clear to staff at the school and we can only apologise for any breakdown in communication when the crates were retrieved.”

So, everyone happy? The company avoids a potential lawsuit, the school gets new equipment… What’s not to like?

Or is the ‘foundation stage leader’ correct? Will the provision of suitable, authorised-for0-that-very-use play equipment strip something vital from the children’s learning experience?

Over to you, readers.

8 comments for “Spoilsports R Us..?

  1. Jim
    August 27, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Presumably if they are not the property of Dairy Crest they have no right to remove them, and in fact have committed theft. Perhaps a little word with the local police might be in order?

    • August 27, 2011 at 11:50 am


      Quite, if the crates were left by a previous dairy then it was theft plain and simple by Dairy Crest.

      I can’t imagine that purpose built equipment will be quite as much fun nor encourage creativity as much as a bunch of milk crates. Really milk crates must be the closest thing to giant lego, I’m quite jealous.

    • August 28, 2011 at 6:42 am

      I did wonder about that!

  2. 6079SmithW
    August 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    ” … it remains a fact that milk crates are not toys and current health and safety guidelines require that they should not be used as such.”

    It would be interesting to know exactly what “current” “guidelines” Dairy Crest claim to be following in pursuit of their apparent theft. Are these “guidelines” likely to change to allow milk crates to be used as toys?

    “Guidelines” are just that – guides.

    As a business studies lecturer used to say: “rules are made to be followed by fools and for the guidance of wise men”.

    Winston Smith

    • Boots McGonagle
      August 27, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      … “rules are made to be followed by fools and for the guidance of wise men”. The ethos of socialism, in a nutshell.

      • August 28, 2011 at 6:42 am


  3. nisakiman
    August 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Reading things like this seems to induce a kind of psychosis in me – I sort of oscillate between uncontrolled, hysterical laughter and a bizarre manifestation of Tourette syndrome.

    I must try to stop reading these sort of news items…it can’t be good for me.

  4. Jack Savage
    August 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    The average old plastic milk crate is in fact one of the least destructable items ever manufactured by man . They are an absolute must for any small builder as a bullet-proof hop-up or impromptu trestle.
    Any “play equipment” they are replaced with will be far inferior in longevity and robustness.


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