Play in the Community
Lunchtime play at Ysgol Tŷ Ffynnon
Schools across Wales are working with play organisations to improve playtime. Popular interventions include the provision of loose parts during lunchtime play, alongside support for midday supervisors to support them.
Ysgol Tŷ Ffynnon opened nearly five years ago due to the amalgamation of Shotton Infant School and Taliesin Junior School in Deeside. At School Life, a conference held to promote play in schools in Flintshire, Thomas and Michalina, and two of their teachers talked about lunchtime play in their school.
Mr. Shepherd, Deputy Headteacher at the school reports that staff were noticing problems with playtime, ‘In particular, there were a lack of activities at lunchtime, which meant that children were easily falling out. This led to a great deal of time spent on investigating incidents by teachers on a regular basis, which impacted on teaching and learning time. The outdoor play space was a sparse area with not much for the children to do. The space encouraged running which meant lots of children were crashing into one another, which resulted in a high number of accident forms being filled in.’
During 2016/17 school year an initiative, called Playful Futures, for lunchtime play was introduced. This is a project where loose parts play materials are provided in a specific shed to enable pupils to use them during playtime for richer play experiences. All staff were given training and support on how to implement the project. Older children are Play Champions, who help to get the play materials out and to put them away. Working with a consultant, the school implemented a programme to create higher quality play experiences for children at playtime.
Michalina explained, ‘Before the play shed was built, most of the children thought that playtime wasn’t very good and could be better. But, now that we have the play shed, almost everyone thinks playtime is good’. Thomas talked about some of things that other children had said about playtime:
‘I look forward to lunchtimes now.’
‘We get to make dens and see who has designed the best!’
‘I have loads of friends to play with now.’
Together, the school identified a range of benefits from better opportunities at playtime. In particular, Mr. Shepherd reports ‘fewer behavioural issues, with forty percent less accident forms being used per week’.