Posts Tagged ‘pat kane’

The Con/Lib government aren’t playing fair by cancelling the playground programme, argues Pat Kane

17/08/2010, 11:41:32 AM

Michael Gove’s cancellation of the playground building programme last week is no surprise to those familiar with the Gradgrindery of his general educational philosophy, history and Latin lessons. But however unlikely its success, it is worth remembering just what a triumph the programme was for the outgoing new Labour administration.

It is true that when the then children’s secretary Ed Balls announced close to christmas in 2007 that over £200 million was to be earmarked to build 3,500 playgrounds, and then followed it through in the subsequent two years, advocates of play were pinching themselves.

New Labour, with various invocations of a renewed work-ethic for the work-shy and a notoriously exacting measurement culture in education, did not seem the most propitious sponsor of the value and benefits of play; oblique, messy and experimental as play is. Ed Balls did not join up his thinking when he rejected the Cambridge Primary Review in 2009, which showed conclusively that an extended period of kindergarten-style play up to the seventh year was the best developmental start for school children.

But there it was; alongside play initiatives from the lottery fund and echoed throughout the devolved parliaments, a commitment to building playgrounds as a step towards rethinking how we regard the activity of children in our public spaces, town and cities. It’s tempting to say that in a similar way to our shifts on climate change the scientific consensus on the health, the cognitive and social benefits of more play in our lives; both for children and adults, was becoming indisputable.


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