Tag Archives: outdoor education

Covid-19 and children: what does the science tell us, and what does this mean as the lockdown is eased?

Key points
As this is a longish post – perhaps a 10-minute read – here are the main takeaways:

  • Children are much less likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19 than adults, and appear less likely to become infected.
  • Unlike with influenza, it appears that children are not more likely than adults to spread the disease, and may be significantly less likely.
  • There are good grounds for thinking that outdoor environments present a low risk of infection compared to indoor ones, especially where the time spent in close proximity to other people is short.
  • Pandemic control measures are likely to lead to significant collateral damage to children, with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children worst affected.
  • Government, local authorities and other public agencies should take a balanced approach to supporting children through the pandemic. They should:
    • Encourage schools and child care centres to take learning activities outdoors, prioritising play and breaks, and maximize outdoor play time, as they reopen.
    • Open all remaining closed parks, review the closure of playgrounds, and take a supportive approach to the oversight of children’s play and socialising in public space.
    • Address the circumstances of disadvantaged children as a matter of urgency.
    • Prioritise children’s active travel to school, to help reduce peak hours congestion.
    • Closely monitor emerging evidence, especially from countries that have relevant experience of relaxing measures.
    • Encourage the public to engage with and understand the evidence base, and keep them informed as it grows.

Introduction
The government’s plans for relaxing the lockdown, including greater freedom to spend time outside, and the possible re-opening of schools, have unsurprisingly generated huge debate. At the same time, evidence is growing on how Covid-19 affects children, and of children’s role in the spread of the disease. This post shares my take on that evidence base and its implications.

'Park closed' sign outside park in Waltham Forest

The post starts with a summary of the clinical and epidemiological evidence base. It then looks at the collateral damage to children of the pandemic control measures. It closes with implications for policy and practice, with a particular focus on children’s play and mobility.

Continue reading

A rare glimpse into a messy oasis of adventure play

Adventure play is enjoying a moment. And at the centre of this is The Land, an adventure playground in Wrexham, North Wales. So it is great to see a 14-minute documentary feature on The Land – from US filmmaker Erin Davis – being made freely available online. Click on the image below to watch it.

The Land video screengrab

It was Hanna Rosin’s 2014 Atlantic magazine cover story ‘The Overprotected Kid’ that thrust The Land into the public eye. It also features prominently in the new book Messy by Tim Harford, writer and self-styled ‘undercover economist’ (and front man for one of my favourite BBC Radio 4 shows, More or Less). Harford’s take is revealing: Continue reading

Crowdfunded campaign aims to give every child access to forest schools

I have long been a fan of – and cheerleader for – the forest school movement. That is why I am happy to give my support to Love Trees Love Wood – a new crowdfunding initiative that aims to spread its reach and impact. And I am inviting you to do the same.

Tim and a boy: forest school video still

Continue reading

Whose fire is it anyway?

Fire in churchyardThis post looks at fires, the value of fire in children’s play and learning, and the sometimes problematic attitudes and actions of the fire authorities. It starts with a personal anecdote. (Its timing on Bonfire Night is kind of coincidental, but kind of not.)

Continue reading

Supporting a balanced approach to risk in schools: what I am doing, and how you can help

4-year-old boy on a rope swingI 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.

Continue reading

A revealing tale of rope swings and insurance (that ends well)

3 young children swinging on a rope swing in the woodsA few weeks ago I was approached by outdoor educator Mandy Tulloch, who told me that some insurers were getting into a bit of a tangle about rope swings. As you will see, her story held some revealing insights into the approach the insurance industry sometimes takes when assessing the risks that it is presented with. Her tale also showed the value of a firm, assertive stance when dealing with insurers.

Continue reading

A message to all those promoting outdoor learning

Wyre forest school fire steelThis weekend saw the launch of the Forest School Association, a new national body for those working in UK Forest School settings. I have agreed to be the patron of this new body. Sadly I was not able to be at the event in person. At the Association’s invitation, I passed on a message of support, which I thought may be of wider interest:

Continue reading