Sense at last from a Labour minister but the Tw@t from the teachers Union needs a dose of reality. http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2232798,00.html Let boys play with toy weapons and act out their heroes' special powers at nursery school, the government is advising - to the horror of teachers' leaders. Springing to the defence of Luke Skywalker's light sabre, Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, said today these games might be noisy but they are good for boys' learning. Her department's guidance aimed at promoting boys' educational achievement - which tends to fall behind girls' in primary school and beyond - says that allowing boys to follow their instincts for running around and boisterous fantasy play will help their development. Some nursery staff found boys' play "more difficult to understand and value than that of girls" but they should resist their "natural instinct" to stop boys playing with toy weapons, says the guidance issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. But teachers' unions said toy weapons symbolised aggression and nurseries risked offending parents who did not want their children playing with them. Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, 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." "The reason why teachers often intervene when kids have toy guns is that the boy is usually being very aggressive," he added. Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, warned that nurseries following the guidance risked incurring the anger of parents who did not want their children to have toy weapons. In addition to this, she said: "I think this is a clear example of gender stereotyping. I do not think schools should be encouraging boys to play with toy weapons." Hughes responded: "The guidance simply takes a common sense approach to the fact that many young children, and perhaps particularly many boys, like boisterous, physical activity pretending to be superheroes of one kind or another, such as Star Wars characters with their light sabres. "Although noisy for adults, such imaginary games are good for their development as well as good fun. The guidance also impresses upon staff the need to teach children that they must respect one another and that harming another person in the real world is not acceptable." The guidance, Confident, Capable and Creative - Supporting Boys' Achievements, states: "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." "Creating situations so that boys' interests in these forms of play can be fostered through healthy and safe risk-taking will enhance every aspect of their learning and development," it adds.