The Government should encourage play in primary and secondary schools by providing funding for appropriate equipment, according to the National Union of Teachers.
The union has also called for an independent review of the national curriculum to focus on freedom for teachers to introduce play-based activities into their lessons. And it proposes a national audit of facilities for play in schools, ensuring they all have classroom and outdoor play areas. Local authorities should channel resources for play directly into schools.
Launching the policy this week, Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, said:
"All too often the right to a childhood is under attack. It's not cherished by policy-makers, or even some of our practitioners."
He called for the extended lunch-breaks of his own school days, when half an hour in the dining-room was followed by half an hour in the playground.
To help members celebrate their childhood, a noticeboard was set up at NUT headquarters on which delegates wrote their preferred play activities, according to age.
Contributors recalled catching grasshoppers between the ages of seven and 14. Nineteen to 30-year-olds listed dancing, food, friends and boyfriends, while 30 to 40-year-olds mentioned playing with their own kids.
By 50, play activities included sudoku, scrapbooking, archery, gymnastics and making love. Those over 60 did not play at all.