Children should climb trees, says UK Education Minister

UK Education Secretary Damian Hinds announces a policy that recognises the importance of what goes on outside the classroom, including climbing trees

By Wendy Russell, University of Gloucestershire, UK

© Playwork Partnerships

Yesterday, the UK media ran the story that our Secretary of State for Education has said there will be a policy that encourages schools to support children doing stuff that will build character and resilience, things like climbing trees and sleeping under canvas. At the moment, it looks like the policy is a list of goals – milestones that children can tick off as they progress through their schooling. And he is asking for people to help him write that list.

Dear Minister, we think we can help!

Just a list may not seem like much, and we hope that there will be some resources to support schools in this. However, small as it is, it is music to the ears for those of us who have been battling against an increasing focus on testing and results with a heavily prescribed and technical academic curriculum. It is in line with what ARTPAD (Achieving Resilience through Play and Drama), our previous European-funded project, sought to promote. We believe firmly that children are capable of seeking out what they need to help them be happy, healthy and open to learning – they are the experts and we as adults need to be responsive to that. Both our ARTPAD Best Practice Guide and our edited book give lots of evidence of the benefits for children and schools when children are given time and space to engage in play and drama. For our latest CAPS project, we are developing these ideas further to support schools to become play-friendly. You can find our Quality Criteria here, and some of the evidence of benefits here and here.

If you are interested in becoming a play-friendly school, please do get in touch or come to one of our UK twilight sessions in Nottingham and Gloucester

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