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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
School bans 'nut allergy' conkers
children playing conkers
At Cummersdale school in Cumbria children wear goggles to play conkers
Schools are banning children from playing conkers because of allergy fears - but health campaigners say this may not be necessary.

Several schools have banned the game because of nut allergies, others because of safety fears.

Bookwell Primary School in west Cumbria and Menstrie Primary school in Clackmannanshire imposed bans because some children there have nut allergies.

But the Anaphylaxis Campaign says this could be an over-reaction.

The group gives advice about nut allergies and says one child in 70 in the UK has a peanut allergy.

Traces of nuts

It is relatively common for schools to ban nuts, to try to stop children with the allergy from coming into contact with them.

There is a danger that traces of nuts can be left on tables and other surfaces, which could then be touched by children with the allergy.

But banning conker games seems to be a new phenomenon.

At Menstrie Primary School, head teacher Veronica O'Grady said she imposed the ban because health officials said conkers could cause severe allergic reactions in nut allergy sufferers.

Two children at the school have severe nut allergies.

In a newsletter to parents, she said the school was being made nut-free: "To help keep all of our pupils safe, please ensure your child doesn't bring nuts or nut products to school.

"This includes tree nuts such as chestnuts."

The Anaphylaxis Campaign says it has not heard of any severe reactions to conkers, and certainly no deaths.

No one can tell a school whether or not to ban conkers
Hazel Gowland, Anaphylaxis Campaign
Its website says: "A few children have reported that they break out in a localised skin rash when they handle conkers, but we are not aware of any severe reactions.

"A few schools have banned conkers because they have been told there is a risk to nut-allergic pupils, but this may be an over-reaction."

However, the organisation's food adviser, Hazel Gowland, said that in schools where there were children with nut allergies a ban might be "a wise precaution".

"No-one can tell a school whether or not to ban conkers. They need to carry out a risk assessment to see what is necessary and practical.

"We have no history of any known dangers, and certainly no deaths," she said.

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