We must conquer playground fears

22nd December 2000 at 00:00
Judging by the latest research on the banning of traditional playground games (TES, December 8) the time may well be right for a campaign to save school playtime. Wouldn't it be marvellous to see this receive the enthusiastic and active support of education professionals across the board?

The essential role of play in a child's social, emotional and physical development is by now well-documented, as are the risks in play. With child obesity, stress, cardiac health and low levels of fitness now firmly on the agenda, surely this is not the time to accept even more restrictions on our children's right to exercise and to personal development? The nation's future sporting success must also depend to some extent on coming up with the right solutions.

The issue is, of course, how to define and manage acceptable and insurable levels of risk.

There is plethora of published advice on safety for headteachers from all directions. Unfortunately, such advice on play and playgrounds is open to wide interpretation at the local level which puts yet more management pressure on already fully loaded teaching staff. Is it surprising, therefore, when faced with such levels of parental concern, that some ban everything in sight?

Surely what is needed are clear and more consistent local working guidelines on play management backed by teacher support in this vital area. Learning through Landscapes' experience shows it is possible to develop a positive and safer play culture by involving pupils with staff in defining and implementing sensible and effective playground rules and management strategies.

Ken Davies Director Learning through Landscapes Southside Offices The Law Courts Winchester Hampshire

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