Bonkers for conkers: School takes aim at autumn tradition

Ash Hall-Wood, Zachary Firth, Charmaine Perkins, Oscar Tuthill, Gracie Nicholson, Lucy Hornby, Lotti

Ash Hall-Wood, Zachary Firth, Charmaine Perkins, Oscar Tuthill, Gracie Nicholson, Lucy Hornby, Lottie Whitman, Izzy Williams, Luli Truman-Grieve, Grace Williamson and Mr Read getting ready to play conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

It is a time-honoured tradition in British playgrounds during autumn - the conker fight.

And although some schools have made headlines for banning the practice, Worstead Primary School has taken another approach.

Pupils and staff are rolling up their sleeves for a full-on conker tournament - doing battle with each other to find out whose conker is the strongest and be declared the 'conker-er'.

Hanah Schutte and Rowan Alderton playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Boode

Hanah Schutte and Rowan Alderton playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Nick Read, headteacher, said: "It teaches the children a lot of life skills - searching for the best conkers to use, measuring and cutting the string, there's all the maths involved and the older pupils help the younger ones. 

"There is always a small chance of bruised knuckles, but that is far outweighed by the fun of playing and competing, and it teaches children that some things are risky. 

"It's a genuine playground game that children don't play at home, and it's my understanding that it's only in Britain that conkers is played.

"It's one of our seasonal traditions that seems to be slowly withering away, but it's really good natured fun." 

Luca Williams, Hanah Schutte and Rowan Alderton playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture:

Luca Williams, Hanah Schutte and Rowan Alderton playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

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Mr Read said the school started organised conker fights in 2018 when he noticed there was a horse chestnut tree overhanging the playground.

"I realised most of the children didn't even know what they were so I showed them how to play the game," he said. 

"Since then we've had the pandemic in the way so weren't able to have it last year, but some of the older children do remember from the previous time we had the tournament."

Kamilla Stark playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Kamilla Stark playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

In the game each child has a conker tied to the end of a piece of string, and pairs take turns in trying to hit their opponent's conker.

The winner of each fight gets the points accumulated by the conker they have beaten, until there is only one conker left with all the points. 

Popular methods for strengthening conkers such as soaking in vinegar, baking or painting with nail varnish are banned.

Shouting 'stampsies' after a conker falls to the ground - which entitles a player to break an opponent's conker by stamping on it - is also not allowed. 

Mr Read said all of the school's 113 children would have the chance to take part, and winners of the tournament would be given awards at an assembly after the half-term break. 

Guinevere Gilligan and Noah Thompson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle B

Guinevere Gilligan and Noah Thompson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Noah Thompson and Luther Lewis playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Noah Thompson and Luther Lewis playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Noah Thompson and Luther Lewis playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Noah Thompson and Luther Lewis playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Noah Thompson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Noah Thompson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Guinevere Gilligan and Noah Thompson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle B

Guinevere Gilligan and Noah Thompson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Ash Hall-Wood playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Ash Hall-Wood playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Oscar Tuthill with his broken conker at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Oscar Tuthill with his broken conker at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Isla Marjoram playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Isla Marjoram playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Hannah Schutte playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Hannah Schutte playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Luca Williams playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Luca Williams playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Ash Hall-Wood playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Ash Hall-Wood playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Izzy Williams playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Izzy Williams playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Ginny Wall playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Ginny Wall playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Belle Wilson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Belle Wilson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Elsie Wilson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Elsie Wilson playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Read and Luther Lewis playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Mr Read and Luther Lewis playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Rowan Alderton playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. Picture: Danielle Booden

Rowan Alderton playing conkers at Worstead Primary School. - Credit: Danielle Booden




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