Locking down outside, opening up inside

Far from ideal, the schools had to deal with moving forward on the play-friendly route during the 2.5 month school closure in Hungary.

We were in the middle of a process. Mentors had been working closely together with our 5 pilot schools helping them understand the nature of free play, finding solutions for problematic areas, and elaborating on the play friendly strategy. Nobody was prepared to work without shaking hands, meeting and talking face to face. The lack of school visits could easily break the process and withdraw the focus from the play friendly programme.

As an immediate action, the Rogers team decided to continue the work online with the pilot schools in order not to lose them during this relatively long socially distanced period.

Four out of five schools agreed to work on and finalize their strategy by the end of May with the help of the mentors who provided them a syllabus and help if any questions arose. We insisted on including all quality criteria in the strategy therefore the schools had to map out how they fit in play-time, how they shape the play area, and they also had to write about the sustainability of the programme as well. Most of the schools had already made some of these steps by the time the lockdown started.

Two independent evaluators by institutions have reviewed the strategies and awarded the schools with play-friendly labels for, all of them at intermediate level, say they are fully committed, and have already made the most important steps. We feel happy for the success but are not going to sit back. The work has just started with the schools reopening as they now must put their plans into action and try to show what play friendly days look like in practice. We are looking forward to seeing ..

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