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Forget the facelift, go out and play

It is quite something to hear an experienced teacher say that if changes just introduced in her school had taken place 10 years ago, "I would look 20 years younger today". Not only that, says Doris Allan of New Farm primary in Kilmarnock, her thoughts have turned from the eager anticipation of retirement to the joy of teaching (Scotland Plus, pages 2-3).

The miracle cure which has brought about this transformation will not come as a surprise to primary teachers in these target-driven times: East Ayrshire has been toying with the benefits of play. Its pilot initiative on less formal learning in P1 is an attempt to bring about benefits by allowing pupils and teachers to follow their instincts - the most obvious of which is to acknowledge that infants like to be active not trapped in rows of desks.

It is early days for this infant project, but one lesson that is surely evident is that teachers work best when they are confident and comfortable in their work. If this project achieves that by reintroducing a better balance between formal and informal learning, it will have performed a signal service.

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