It is not a case of play or learning. The debate now is surely about how meaningful teaching contexts are for young learners. Research shows clearly that new learning must be embedded in contexts which make sense to the children and motivate them to become actively involved.
Well-planned areas of provision - role-play, construction, sand and water - offer children the most meaningful and engaging contexts for cross-curricular learning. This is why KS1 teachers are re-introducing such provision into their classrooms. They have realised that formal teaching simply does not work for most young children. They have also realised that they need to build on the enthusiasm for learning that children bring from good foundation-stage settings.
The challenge now is to ensure that all foundation-stage and KS1 practitioners understand how to plan, organise and support high-quality play provision.
Margaret Edgington. Early-years consultant, Leicester