12th October 2016 –
- “If we want a society that promotes happiness and wellbeing among children” (We should be ashamed of what we’re doing to Britain’s children, Owen Jones, 4 October), we could start by giving them back the space where they are happiest, and the freedom to enjoy it.
In 2008, after the UK came last in a Unicef league table of developed nations’ children’s wellbeing, a consensus was quickly reached that children desperately needed more time, space and opportunity to play, not on screens and social media, but with their friends, outside, as they have done for millennia. A 10-year strategy was launched to “make England the best place in the world to grow up”, with every neighbourhood made safer from traffic and containing attractive places to play within easy reach of children’s homes.
In spite of growing evidence that free play, in the real world, is a vital component in children’s adaptability and resilience, this plan was abandoned in 2010 and children’s play services have been heavily hit by austerity measures ever since.
- As a teacher who has worked in music education for nearly 30 years, I want to echo Victoria Trow’s letter (2 October). There is a great deal of evidence to support play-based learning – this is well known in the education sector as well as among parents. But policymakers are too frightened to jump off the conveyor belt of testing and results that is ruining our children’s sense of self-worth and their chance of a happy and carefree childhood. The job of a child is to play. There are no ifs or buts about this. Let our children sing and dance and play make-believe. Let them get muddy and jump in puddles. This is how we can nurture our next generation for the better.
Director, Musical Bumps
East Malling, Kent