The pitch and equipment are the same as for the full game; with posts or cones as bases, marked batting or bowling squares (or delineate them using skipping ropes) and bats and balls of styles suitable for the participants. Normal rounders rules apply, including the points for reaching each base. We have one point for first base to allow a really positive opportunity to score, two points for second base and so on.
The group can be any size from eight to 18. At the start, half bat and the others field. After the bowler and backstop have been selected, fielders are prioritised depending on how many are playing, but invariably including posts one and four and a deep or two. The batsmen hold their own score. To encourage catching, we add the rule that the catcher adds a point to his own score. When an individual reaches 10 points, or is out for being caught or stumped, he retires and becomes the backstop. The backstop then moves to become bowler, who transfers to first base, and all players rotate anticlockwise one fielding position. The player at fourth base joins the batters. With less experienced players, I often let them continue batting if they are caught out or stumped.
Everyone has the chance to experience all the positions. Expert batters usually score rapidly and retire, giving less experienced players more chances to bat as they score more slowly. The bowler declares the no-balls and the backstop declares "out". The children work co-operatively as well as playing competitively. And they really enjoy themselves.
Head of Prep, Hillcrest Grammar School, Stockport