I am pleased to announce that this Autumn, I will be putting on some training on risk, targeted at schools. The workshops, organised by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC), will look at why outdoor learning and play matter, what a balanced, thoughtful approach to risk looks like, and how this can be developed in schools. The half-day sessions will be repeated in four venues across England in Sept, Oct and Nov. See the end of this post for dates and venues, and head to this CLOtC web page for bookings.
One key focus will be the use of risk benefit assessment (RBA) to support well-grounded judgements. This will cover both the formal curriculum (school trips and outdoor lessons) and judgements about school grounds and play activities during break times.
Most of those working in play and playwork are familiar with RBA in theory, if not in practice. To a degree, this is also the case in forest school and outdoor learning and adventure activity contexts: a move that I called for in my 2010 report Nothing Ventured [pdf link]. I suspect this trend is growing, now that RBA is explicitly supported by the Government’s Health and Safety Executive. The approach is also well embedded in innovative school playtime programmes like the PlayPod initiative run by the Children’s Scrapstore Bristol, and the Natural Play design projects developed in Scotland by Grounds for Learning.
However, RBA is still a novel approach for many educators. What is more, to my knowledge it is rare for schools to bring together its thinking around risk in curriculum and non-curriculum contexts. So I hope the sessions will break new ground and stimulate new thinking – as well as supporting better play and learning experiences for children.
Of course I would love you to help spread the word about these events. But I would also like to hear your views. How can schools be won over to a more balanced, thoughtful approach to risk? Are the barriers different in schools to other contexts like parks and play services? Those of you who think you have made progress in schools: can you share your thoughts on what has helped – and what has not been so helpful – in overcoming these barriers?
Seminar dates (more details here)
26th September – The Mead School, Wiltshire
16th October – Viridor Laing Education Centre, Bolton
23rd October – The Parks Trust, Milton Keynes
7th November – Hazel Oak Special School, Solihull