Palmerston Primary School
At Palmerston Primary School we see 'Play' as a vital part of every child's development and actively promote it throughout the day.
We have a detailed Play Policy (Press link for a printable copy)
The school has an exciting ‘PlayPod / Scrapstore’ where children can use equipment creatively to play and develop a range of skills.
This 'Play Page' is new and in development. More details will be published soon.
Commitment and rationale
This policy sets out the school’s commitment to ensuring that quality environments for play and informal recreation are available to all its children, and aims to improve the way we think about, and provide, opportunities for play.
We are committed to supporting the children in their social and emotional development, helping facilitate learning thorough play and ensuring play is a valued and exciting part of each day.
‘Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child’. This definition draws closely on the work of Bob Hughes and Frank King. Play can be further described as follows:
‘Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing, children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community’.
Play should be:
- Unstructured, freely chosen and without purpose or success criteria;
- Explorative, investigative and experimental;
- Creative, imaginative and adventurous;
- Independent and individual;
- Interactive and co-operative;
- Memory building and enjoyable; and,
- Supplemented with natural and manmade resources and materials.
Rights, equality and access
Play provision, in line with the school’s Equality Policy, should be welcoming and accessible to every child, irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, economic or social circumstances, ethnic or cultural background or origin, or individual physical abilities. All children have an entitlement to access play provision. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that all children have equal opportunity to play.
In line with article 31 of the UN convention on the rights of the child (ratified by the UK government in 1991) and supported by Welsh Assembly Government policy, our school believes that all children need opportunities to play which allow them to explore, manipulate, experience and affect their environment within challenging settings, free from unacceptable levels of risk.
The Welsh Assembly Government set out its Play Policy in 2002. This policy acknowledges the vital importance of play, and the commitment that our society should seek every opportunity to support it. The Welsh Government recognises the value of play in childhood and the importance of children in society. It makes clear the commitment of the Welsh Government to ensure that children and their needs are central to policy making and that provision is made to meet those needs. Society should seek every opportunity to support it by creating an environment that fosters children’s play.
The Policy states that play is freely chosen, personally motivated and intrinsically rewarding and is a fundamental and integral part of healthy development.
‘The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to ensuring that all children have access to rich, stimulating environments, free from inappropriate risk, and full of challenge, thereby offering them the opportunity to explore through freely chosen play both themselves and the world.
The Welsh Assembly Government recognises that the impact of modern society on children’s lives has significantly restricted their opportunity to play freely and has resulted in a poverty of play opportunities in the general environment. It is therefore committed to encouraging the creation of high quality ‘compensatory’ play provision that is appropriate, local, stimulating and challenging for all children in Wales.’
Benefit and risk
Play is great for children’s well-being and development. When planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits. No child will learn about risk if he or she are wrapped up in cotton wool. Children need and want to take risks when they play. Play provision aims to respond to these needs and wishes by offering children stimulating, challenging environments for exploring and developing their abilities. In doing this, play provision aims to manage the level of risk so that children are not exposed to unacceptable risks.
An essential element of exploration within the medium of play is the opportunity for children to experience freely-chosen activities, where they can take acceptable risks and challenge themselves beyond their existing capabilities. Allowing children to take acceptable risks develops their ability to independently judge risks and learn new skills.
Without opportunities to take acceptable levels of risk children’s development is inhibited, undermining their capacity to deal with the wider unsupervised world.
It is the school’s responsibility to strike a balance between the risks and the benefits as guided by the Health and Safety Executive (2012) and the school’s Play Risk Benefit Assessment and we have a duty of care to protect and provide. This policy sets out the school’s overall objectives for risk management in play provision, and the school recognises the challenge that this new thinking brings.
Carefully considered and comprehensive risk assessments of all play provision within the school should be reviewed on an annual basis, or whenever significant change/development in play provision/equipment takes place.
The adult’s role in play
The adult’s role in play is underpinned by the Play-work Principles. Those who supervise play should:
- Support and facilitate the play process;
- Recognise their own impact on the play space;
- Support children in the creation of a space in which they can play;
- Assist children with, and model skills of, independent management of conflict resolution;
- Monitor and respond assertively to activities that present high risk;
- Commit to ongoing Professional Development (in-house training and education).
An enriched play environment should (as set out in Best Play) provide opportunities for:
- Varied and interesting play;
- Challenging environment;
- Playing with natural elements;
- Manipulating natural and man-made materials;
- Stimulation of the five senses;
- Experiencing change;
- Social interaction;
- Playing with identity; and,
- Experience range of emotions.