Double Olympian Jack Green has slammed a school that asked children not to dress up as sportspeople or pop stars because the jobs are "so hard to achieve".
Green, who reached the 400m hurdles semi-final at both the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and at London in 2012 and also competed in the 400m relay for Great Britain, said children should be able to "aspire to be whatever they want to be". He became the youngest European under-23 400m hurdles champion when he was just 19.
He shared a photo on Twitter of a letter from Durrington CE Controlled Junior School in Wiltshire, which told parents about "My World of Work Day" being held on Thursday (18 January) to help pupils find out more about different careers.
The letter reads: "Children are invited to come to school dressed as themselves in a job they would like to do in the future. Children don't need full outfits or costumes; just encourage them to use their imagination and think about a few props that will help express their ambitions for the future."
However, the part with which Green took umbrage came under a "special note" section that said it was not allowing more aspirational job choices inspired by celebrities.
It says: "We know that some children would love to be professional sports people or pop stars or famous YouTubers in the future. These are great ambitions but so hard to achieve!
"Because of this, on this occasion we're not allowing these dress-up choices - instead, we'd like children to think of their 'Plan B' choices for future jobs."
Green, 26, responded by telling people to read the special note section and then ignore it. "Let your children aspire to be whatever they want to be," he said in a tweet which has been liked more than 4,000 times. "Thanks mum and some of my teachers for supporting my aspirations when I was young!"
Emily Diamond, another 2016 GB athlete, also shared her scepticism. She tweeted: "I think they are just being polite here with 'Plan B'. They don't reckon the kids will achieve those things so want them to focus on a 'proper job'."
Not all sportspeople agreed with Green's criticism of the letter, as rugby player Sam Egerton said he "totally disagrees". "Encouraging a 'plan B' is very responsible thing to do for children. Not everyone makes it like you, and even then, you yourself will need a plan B when the body fades," he tweeted.
Green responded that he agreed a plan B was important, but that children should be able to aim high too. He said: "I totally agree with your point and my post does not condemn the idea of a plan B. It's definitely a necessity and we must encourage a good education. But the issue here is not letting some children dream and aim high because it's 'so hard to achieve'.
"Should we not encourage the plan A and then educate and increase awareness of the journey it requires. Once you encourage that person you then create plan B, C, D and so on?"
"Non-perfect dad" Richard Shorter also pointed out the desirable qualities of a sportsperson, saying: "This 'special Note' does not help. Ask child what qualities they need to be a sports person? What character traits help sports people, then tell me what employer wouldn't want someone teachable, hardworking, committed and good in a team!"