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'Healthy and Happy' – Estyn reports on embedding well-being in school life


Estyn’s new Healthy and happy – school impact on pupils’ health and wellbeing report evaluates how well primary and secondary schools in Wales support the health and well-being of their pupils. The report makes several references to school play and break times. 

The report highlights that schools that apply a whole school approach to supporting health and well-being provide and environment, facilities and space to play, socialise and relax at break times. It also notes that:

  • Access to outdoor play space across many schools is often compromised during inclement weather
  • Some schools have limited outdoor space and have to restrict access to some groups of pupils.


It raises concerns that pupils in these schools are less physically active and can find it hard to relax during playtimes which affects their well-being.

The report recommendations include:

  • Taking a whole-school approach to support all pupil's health and well-being
  • Training new teachers to understand and support pupils.


Play Wales says:

Play Wales welcomes the inclusion in Estyn’s report of the importance of providing adequate play and break times in primary and secondary schools. However, it is disappointing that the report focuses solely on the environment and facilities for play time and doesn’t reference the need for adequate time for play.

We are concerned that many schools in Wales are proposing to shorten the school day by reducing playtime and that others withdraw playtime as punishment as part of behaviour management strategies. School playtime is vital to children for their fun and relaxation as well as for their health and well-being.

Play Wales urges governing bodies and school leaders to consider the value to pupil well-being when making decisions on the planning and length of the school day including playtimes and lunch times. We hope that the upcoming new curriculum for Wales will place greater emphasis on the need to provide sufficient time for play. We advise that Estyn makes the provision of adequate breaks for play mandatory and inspect them as part of its statutory inspections.’

More information