I have been invited to Buckingham Palace in November, to discuss with the Duke of Edinburgh how to promote a more balanced approach to risk and adventure in children’s lives. And I’m asking for your help in deciding what to say to him.
The meeting has been organised by the Campaign for Adventure, a group that was launched by Prince Philip ten years ago. Since then the debate around risk, adventure and childhood has moved on enormously, and the climate has changed significantly for the better. At the top, Government has set in train reviews of legislation and regulations, and has cut bureaucracy. As I have said before, my own ‘industry’, the play sector, has for more than a decade led the way in building the arguments for a more balanced, thoughtful approach, and in producing the practical guidance to underpin it. Managers and workers in education, childcare and elsewhere are more prepared to add their voices to the call for proportion.
But I believe there is much more work to do. The regulatory framework is still not fit for purpose, and regulatory bodies are failing to back up supportive statements with concrete action. Regulators, politicians and the media are still confused. They bemoan a so-called ‘cotton wool kid’ culture. Yet too often, the response to rare tragedies is to try to find someone to blame – a tendency that is bound to leave front-line workers anxious and fearful. Managers are still under great pressure to sort out their procedures and paperwork, often at the expense of sound, balanced decision-making.
I am honoured to have been asked to the meeting, and I am looking forward to joining others – including leading figures from the education and outdoor sectors, politicians and journalists – to press for more progress. Why not help me, by taking an ‘elevator test’ and sharing the results in the comments below? Imagine you are in an elevator with Prince Philip. What would you tell him still needs to be done?
(Thanks to John Grey Turner for use of this image of Northampton lift test tower – from flickr.)