Pupils should enjoy snowball fights at school, but strict rules are needed to prevent playgrounds descending into “wintery anarchy”, a heads’ leader has said.

Quick-fire volleys of the icy missiles at playtime are simply an enjoyable “part of childhood”, according to Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

But the 55-year-old admitted snowballing “can be dangerous” and said schools needed clear rules in place.

Mr Barton, a headteacher for 15 years, told the Press Association: “Playing with snowballs is a part of childhood, even though it can be dangerous.

“I always thought it was a great opportunity for children who don’t see that much snow to have fun.

“It gives them a chance to experience what lots of us remember from our own childhoods.”

He made his comments as a headteacher at a school in Dagenham, East London, said he had banned his pupils from touching snow altogether on health and safety grounds.

Ges Smith appeared on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday to defend his blanket ban at Jo Richardson Community School, saying he would not risk injuries to students.

'Civilised' snowball fights

Mr Barton, who ran King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said having large school grounds made policing snowball fights easier.

He said: “We had a large playing field where pupils could throw snowballs, away from the school, buildings and cars. It legitimises a safe place for it to happen.

“All the staff would be out at breaks so we could have a civilised day of children hurling snow at each other rather than wintery anarchy.”

He acknowledged that different rules may apply in schools with less space.

He added: “Those that did break the rules would be disproportionately punished, getting detention, having their lunches or breaks taken away.

“Having staff around the grounds gave a sense of security to the kids who didn’t want to take part either.”