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Playful Futures Project

What is Playful Futures? How Is It Delivered in Schools? 


The ‘Playful Futures’ project is a whole school approach which supports Practitioners in the primary setting to develop and adopt a play work approach. The main aim is to provide children with improved access to high quality play experiences during their lunch times using ‘loose part’s which are stored in the school play shed. The ‘Playful Futures’ project is described by its creator Simon Bazley as: 


“A holistic term long project that raises awareness and delivers practical action to support primary schools to create higher quality play experiences for children at playtimes. This in turn enhances the learning environment and supports children’s health and wellbeing”  (Simon Bazley - Playful Futures)


The project is at first delivered with one class of ‘Play Champions’ during a term who develop an understanding of their right to play. The ‘Play Champions’ then support other children across the school to access high-quality play opportunities and have the responsibility of storing the equipment and preparing it for the play session on each lunch time. Typically, the project is delivered as listed below:


Week 1: “Right to Play” (Awareness raising on UNCRC and the Right to Play) 

· Week 2: “Play Doctors” (Gives everyone in the school a ‘play health-check’) 

· Week 3: “Play Detectives” (Assesses the schools play spaces for play value) 

· Week 4: “Play, Play, Play” (A freely chosen play session for the ‘Play Champions’) 

· Week 5: “Playful Futures” (Assessing the information gathered & thinking about how the school could have better playtimes) 


The play shed is then built by Simon, the play resources are delivered, and more playful playtimes begin during lunch times over a four-week period. Simon works with the children on the school yard on one lunch time per week to ensure the project is delivered safely, whilst also supporting the MDSA Team to develop their confidence in providing opportunities for the children to access loose parts in their play. 


- Week 10: “Revisit Play Doctors & Play Detectives…the final check-up” (A revision of the play health-check undertaken in week two to evidence the progress made to date) 



Developing A Whole School Approach- The Playful Futures Journey: 


Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at Southdown Primary School :


As part of the ‘Playful Futures’ project, prior to the ‘Playful Futures’ shed opening, Simon Bazley attended the school to deliver a short one-hour CPD session for the following members of staff at Southdown Primary School: 


· Mid-Day Supervisors (MDSA) 

· One-One Support Staff 

· Teaching Assistants 

· After-School Club Staff Members 


The Members of Staff who received training were selected as those who were most likely to be supporting play sessions with the children during the school lunch hour and golden time hours. 


During the one-hour session, Simon covered the basics of ‘loose parts theory’, enabling members of staff to gain an understanding of how loose parts can be used to enrich children’s play experiences. 


Members of the Senior Leadership Team including Key Stage 2 Manager Jones and Foundation Phase Manager Mrs Evans released the previously mentioned members of staff from their time tabled responsibilities to attend the session, showing the schools commitment to delivering play opportunities, with the MDSA Team arriving at the school early on the day to receive Simon’s play work training. 


This session proved to be highly beneficial for the members of staff involved, with the concept of dynamic risk assessment and risk management being covered. Members of staff were also given the opportunity to visit the ‘Playful Futures’ shed with play work trainer Simon Bazley who demonstrated how the shed and its contents could be used during the school lunch hour.


One of our Teaching Assistants Commented:


“It was interesting to hear how an experienced playworker deals with encouraging children to play together just by using junk, allowing them to use their imaginations, and taking responsibility for the equipment themselves, whilst developing the area that is used for constructive play together and creating a stimulating environment for the children to call their own. I found it interesting to learn that we should encourage children to play together and take a step back only getting involved when invited to. This allows the children to explore their ideas, seeing what does and doesn’t work, in effect, watching the children and making sure they are safe but not always interfering when things go wrong”.




Parental Views on Playful Futures:


I would like to say well done on bringing ‘Playful Futures’ into our school. Previously all my daughter would say was that they just talked and sat on the bench atplaytime. Now, I don’t even have to ask, she tells me all about playtime. She lovesplaying on the bread trays and ‘wheelie chairs’.


Playtimes have become fun again for the children instead of them being unsure what to do.When I was at school, playtimes were spent doing handstands and cartwheels, or playing British Bulldog, but due to health and safety regulations children are no longer allowed to do these activities during playtime. So, in effect, what can they do? Then you go and introduce ‘Playful Futures’ and created new and exciting things for the children. They can play at playtimes again!


(Year 3 Parent )