Posts Tagged ‘play’

Ministers don’t know what they’re playing at

17/03/2011, 07:00:30 AM

by Sally Bercow

As kids we played outside from dawn till dusk, often entirely unsupervised (“helicopter parents” hadn’t taken off in the 1970s). We lived right beside a wood (oh how exhilarating to shinny up a tree), at the top of a steep footpath (aaaagh – must remember that ride-ons don’t have brakes), next door but one to a garage (12 old car tyres an impressive castle make), in a village (personal knock-down-ginger record: 75 doors in under 30 minutes). We spent hours playing games in the local streets; days exploring the woods and fields; weeks running around having fun in the fresh air.

Now, as much as it would please my dear mum, for accuracy’s sake I mustn’t paint a picture of uninterrupted childhood bliss. And I’m certainly not normally one for nostalgia. On the contrary, my eyes roll wildly whenever ageing Tories look up from their Daily Mail to reminisce about a golden age that, to my mind, didn’t exist.

That said, though, it is indisputable that outdoor play opportunities for kids today are so much more limited than they used to be. No longer do the words of Dorothy Parker (“The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant – and let the air out of their tyres”) ring true. Indeed, today a mere one in five children regularly plays outside in their neighbourhood. (more…)

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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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