Call for greater focus on play in schools

Fiona Simpson
Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Campaigners are calling for stronger oversight of play provision in schools in a bid to boost children's physical and mental health.

Teacher training should have a greater focus on play, campaigners say. Picture: Adobe Stock
Teacher training should have a greater focus on play, campaigners say. Picture: Adobe Stock

The Plan for Play, published by the Children’s Alliance, support by Opal Play CIC – the winner of last year’s CYP Now Play Award, lays out key recommendations for government to improve access to play for children.

It calls for reforms to teacher training to have a greater focus on play and for ministers to “ensure statutory provision of play and creative arts therapy services in all primary schools as an early intervention/preventative measure for children’s mental health and wellbeing”.

Further recommendations include calls for the Department for Education to devise a school plan for play. Ofsted should look at how schools enact play plans and the effectiveness of them, adds the report.

It states that: “The right to play is so important that it is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Research documents its importance to every aspect of child health, development and wellbeing.

“Yet many children have little or no access to high quality play opportunities. Play provision should be considered in relation to every aspect of children’s lives – the design of their neighbourhoods, as well as within the services they access, such as child care centres, schools, hospitals, recreation facilities, parks and adventure playgrounds.”

Meanwhile, a playground (pictured below) in Lewisham, south east London, has been voted as the facility “most in need of love” in a campaign run by children’s charity London Play.

The initiative, launched on Valentine’s Day (14 February) is aimed at raising awareness of the value of play for children and communities across the capital.

Residents who nominated the play area for the campaign feel that it doesn’t yet serve the needs of the many young families in the area.

A spokesperson for the Bellingham Play Park group said: “We believe an improved play park could be a vital resource that can benefit the health and wellbeing of local children and families. We are strongly supported by the amazing local community who would love to see this natural space reach its full potential.”

London Play has pledged to work alongside residents and Lewisham Council to help Bellingham Play Park “get the attention it deserves”.

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