The following are organisations and publications to support schools to provide a rich play environment.
Play Pod project
Children’s Scrapstore in Bristol operates The Scrapstore PlayPod™ programme. It provides a container full of materials and equipment (loose parts) that can stimulate, facilitate and enhance children’s play. There are key features to the Scrapstore PlayPod™, which makes it unique. As well as provision of the pod, the programme includes a playground analysis, training for lunchtime supervisors and mentoring of lunchtime supervisors over a specific period of time.
A Play Wales project officer, has undertaken mentoring training and has delivered mentoring training on behalf of Children’s Scrapstore.
Design for Play: A guide to creating successful play spaces
This guide, published by Play England, explains how good play spaces can give children and young people the freedom to play creatively, while allowing them to experience risk, challenge and excitement. There is also advice on how play spaces can be affordably maintained. It sets out a new approach, tackles some current myths, and challenges providers to think more laterally and creatively about children and young people. It helps those involved in commissioning and designing play spaces to put play value at the heart of their work.
Learning through Landscapes
Learning through Landscapes (LTL) advocates quality outdoor spaces and supports schools develop and use their grounds creatively for learning and play. LTL Cymru is the Welsh programme of LTL, the UK charity dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children. It provides a variety of toolkits and advisory visits to settings wishing to improve their outdoor space.
First steps outdoors: making the most of your outdoor spaces is a step-by-step guide to help early years settings and schools to develop their outdoor spaces in order to provide good quality outdoor provision within the Foundation Phase.
The crucial role of recess in school
In its first policy statement on playtime in school the American Academy of Pediatrics states that playtime is an essential part of a child’s school day and should be a ‘period of free, unstructured play’.
The policy statement abstract states that ‘safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary part of a child’s development and, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.’
All work and no play research
In a Times Educational Supplement (TES) article Helen Ward reports on the importance of playtime in schools at a time when it is increasingly curtailed to make more time for structured education and activities. She cites research by Ed Baines and Peter Blatchford, psychologists at the University of London’s Institute of Education, who looked at how the situation changed in the UK between 1995 and 2006.
‘They found that, in 1995, 42 per cent of junior children and 70 per cent of infants had an afternoon break. The majority of primary schools today still have an afternoon break for infants but only 26 per cent let older pupils out again between lunch and home time.’
The main two reasons for reducing playtimes were poor pupil behaviour and a need to cover the curriculum.
The researchers also found that children were attentive following playtime.