Holistic Outdoor Play Supported by MPs

26 October 2015

All Party Parliamentary Group published the paper as part of the Fit and Healthy Childhood initiative. It calls for Ofsted to include play as part of its grading for schools and nurseries, as well as encouraging children to embrace nature and take part in supervised risky play.


The report states children require “Risky play involving perhaps rough and tumble, height, speed, playing near potentially dangerous elements such as water, cliffs and exploring alone with the possibility of getting lost gives children a feeling of thrill and excitement and other accompanying benefits.”


Childhood obesity is a growing problem, but schools can help tackle the problem by emphasising the importance of active outdoor play. Classic playgrounds made of “fencing, rubber flooring and bright colours” aren’t challenging enough for children and are deemed too sterile and safe, the report states.


Former MP and lead author of the report, Helen Clarke, stated, “We are calling for a ‘whole child’ approach so play and physical exercise shouldn’t be looked at in isolation. In China, children do better if play time is factored in within the school curriculum and academic results are improving as a result of that.


“We argue that a lot of productive learning can come out via play and team work and assessing risk. You cannot just let the Government invest money into promoting sport because not all children are sporty. If you only concentrate on sport, you are going to find that those who are good at sports anyway are going to get even better at it.


An Ofsted representative commented, “Play is an important factor that Ofsted inspectors consider when conducting an inspection, especially for young children. While Ofsted does not have a preferred style of teaching, our most recent survey, ‘Teaching and play in the early years – a balancing act?’ recognises the importance of play in supporting every aspect of a child’s development.”


The report doesn’t advocate (http://www.madeformums.com/news-and-gossip/it-is-actually-ok-to-let-our-kids-take-risks-when-playing/39064.html) putting children in a dangerous scenario – it rather suggests ‘supervised play’ in natural environments can greatly benefit child development. The report puts forward the idea that schools should spend more time interacting with children and that local authorities should ‘ring-fence’ more funding for play.


Findings from a recent study, conducted by Dr Mariana Brussoni et al., Position Statement on Outdoor Active Play, calls for a “series of recommendations to increase active outdoor play opportunities to promote healthy child development.” The study revealed that “Access to active play in nature and outdoors—with its risks— is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings—at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.”


The Risky Play Report in a nutshell:

  • Teachers should be trained in outdoor play as part of a professional qualification
  •  Local authorities should ring-fence funding especially for outdoor play
  • Schools to host informal play session before and after school
  • Local community children can use their school’s outdoor play spaces and facility outside of school hours
  • Government to create public campaigns for parents and teachers on the benefits of outdoor play.


For more information on how Playforce can help your school make the most of outdoor space visit playforce.co.uk/

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