There was an article about Finnish schools in the Guardian today. In the last year I have seen quite a few articles about the Finnish education system. They usually point out how much better their record of success is compared to British schools and how different some of their methods are. Invariably they mention the fact that Finnish school children are shoeless in the classroom.
It does seem that quite a few British schools are moving in the Finnish direction of having pupils remove their shoes. I can imagine health and safety might slow this trend down a bit, however.
I do get the impression that on the continent, there is not the same rigorous culture of 'elf and safety' that we have in the United Kingdom. In some European countries you get nurses and supermarket staff wearing open-toed sandals, something that would not be permitted in the UK.
I am not one of those right-wing bores who collect and share stories about 'elf and safety gone mad.' I find those people rather tiresome. A lot of these stories that do the rounds have been exaggerated or even made up by the press. On the other hand, one can imagine that an obsession with health and safety can sometimes cause a lot of misery.
I hope health and safety concerns don't prevent more British schools from adopting the very sensible Finnish practice of shoes-off in the classroom. It protects floors and carpets paid for by the taxpayer, teaches children about respect and creates a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.