Why Play?

The Benefits of getting outside, active and inclusive play are widely reported on. Even what constitutes “play” is widely reported, but one thing is universally agreed on – PLAY is embedded into every aspect of development and well-being for children and into health and education for all ages, from cradle to grave.

What can be offered to children in today’s changing society? With more traffic, more families with working parents resulting in childcare options rather than straight home – and in a modern day norm of children attending far more booked and adult-led activities than free-play with friends, particularly unsupervised play, there is no doubt that childhood and play opportunities have changed for most. Even more and more misperceptions regarding risk to children of harm by others permeate daily life. Schools in UK generally do not offer the same focus on play that so many of our counterparts do internationally, despite the great benefits.


Many schools are now working with Parents, local Authorities and Care Inspectorate to change this negative culture – embracing new skills, updating policies and working with a Risk Benefit system to open a new wealth of learning opportunities, social development and engagement in school and learning overall. Children are primed to learn this way, to build relationships, to develop care-giving skills for each other and themselves, to be creative and to be active. Confidence, Problem-Solving, Co-operation, Respect, Trust and Team-Building skills develop and cross over between outdoors and indoors, enhancing learning and the sense of belonging and enjoyment in the school culture. Numeracy, Language and Communication skills are impacted at a deep level. Social skills are enhanced and the interdependency of human life is approached in a wonderful and very natural way, contrary to the culture of the playgrounds we usually have, with uninspiring environments, often very sterile for play / development and managed intensely in a Risk Adverse manner. This tends to create far more problems than it can ever resolve or protect children from. Childhood is a journey through risk, which is vital for children to become well-adjusted, capable, resilient and happy adults.

Pencaitland Pupils recently raised concerns about their experiences in their break times. This is to be explored with the Parent Council assisting the Learning Council to canvas experiences and views. We hope to see how this work will impact on our children’s well-being.

Read here for more information on The Importance of Play.