Portable Playground (Gloucestershire)
For this project, Gloucestershire Resource Centre, in partnership with TheVERYidea artist collective, worked with four Gloucestershire primary schools. Each school was selected by their commitment in providing the best conditions for child-initiated play and interest in introducing ‘loose parts’ within their outdoor setting. Children attend primary school for seven years. Of those seven years, around 1.4 years will be spent outside actively playing, making `playtime’ by far the most dominant element within the curriculum. Unlike sport and PE lessons, children’s active play can claim 100% engagement, provided it is delivered with the right expertise, consistency and understanding of children’s social and emotional needs. As part of the pilot phase, we wanted to test out how scrap materials or ‘loose parts’ can be offered as an alternative or to complement existing outdoor play provision.
The project involved taster sessions in the school playground, a bespoke start up outdoor play kit delivered to each school and the testing of resources with different classes and year groups. There were follow up sessions such as whole school assemblies, staff meetings and supporting young play leaders. Gloucestershire Resource Centre hosted a showcase event bringing pupils and schools together to learn and share their individual journey and a photographic exhibition which was open to the general public. There were lots of key creative themes and benefits discovered along the way that impacted on children's well-being and learning.
"Play is an essential part of childhood and a right, it has many benefits and that it requires time, resources and planning. As children have lost the opportunity for freely chosen social play in the outdoors much of the time out of school, it has become increasingly important that schools understand how to create the necessary conditions for play in school time and in school grounds.”
OPAL (Outdoor play and learning programme, 2011).
The findings from the project will be documented and shared on a Portable Playground page on the Gloucestershire Resource Centre website. will continue to be added to the GRC’s Pinterest Page
“What is so pleasing to witness is those children who can be shy, quiet and tentative come out of their shells and become vibrant and chatty”.
Year 5 Teacher
"Portable play is enjoyable because every single time the Build-A-Bots get it out, we end up playing with it ourselves! Usually we make up games for people to play with. Also whenever we start to pack it away, we hear lots of people go: 'Can WE do it next time?'"
Year 5 play leader