Posts Tagged ‘OFSTED


These days it would seem that the Nicky Morgan and Jeremy Hunt make policies without actually talking to each other.  We are given such mixed messages when it comes to developing our children’s minds and bodies.  On the one hand the Education Minister wants to increase the amount of academic work our children do, including dreaded homework. On the other hand,  the Health Minister keeps telling us we are too fat and children don’t get enough exercise.  The amount of opportunities children have to free play and therefore exercise is decreasing with every new target that is added to the OFSTED process.

Tracey Crouch, the Sports Minister, tried to convince us that the Olympic games would make athletes of us all.  There was a little increase in sports participation but nothing to get excited about.  Our medalists didn’t inspire us to exercise more, rather they encouraged us to; open new bank accounts, eat Quorn and watch, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.  All of these activities could be done at home on the sofa and failed miserable to get anyone excited about sport. apparently there is no single reason why people don’t participate in exercise more.

School trim trails, climbing frames, climbing walls and many other pieces of playground equipment adorn our school playgrounds now, yet children are not getting as much time in the school day to play freely. In the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was at school our playground equipment consisted of a dangerous climbing frame, a huge field, crystal draining stones in a filled in stream, grass cuttings and magnifying glasses.  Incidentally the exercise we got from the magnifying glasses was running away from the dinner ladies when we used them to melt black bin bags.  If it was sunny we would go out and play rounders or cricket on the field.  If it was snowing we took our sledges to the nearest hill and didn’t worry that we were missing English or Maths.

These days, unless an activity has got a significant number of learning outcomes and can be incorporated into a success criteria anything that doesn’t have a box to tick doesn’t count as learning.  The notion that exercise has to be formal and that you should achieve some sort of accolade for participating in it is suffocating our love of sport.  My brother and I spent one summer holiday playing in our grandparent’s empty coal bunker, it was great because the adults couldn’t get to us and we got filthy.  The amount of agility and strength required to get in and out of a coal bunker is quite a lot, we slept well at night and fat kids can’t fit into coal bunkers.

We all probably interfere far more in our children’s lives than our parents did in ours.  For some reason we treat children like they are made of fine china and neither their feelings or their bodies should be hurt.  I had bruises and scuffed knees for most of my childhood – I didn’t get upset about it and our parents were caring but accepted that it was part of childhood.  Now I am terrified of my son getting bruised and scuffed simply because I am afraid of being judge as a bad parent.

Play is definitely the secret to getting children to exercise more because it is so flexible and the imagination takes away the boredom of training.  When I watch my son and puppy playing together they are both exercising but because they are playing then don’t realize it.


You know what they say,  those who give up smoking are the really anti smoking, the same can be said of education.  Since I gave up the annoying habit of trying get children interested in full stops and capital letters when they wanted to do something more interesting instead, I have become so anti education system.  I surprise myself at how I look upon it the same it was depicted in the the Pink Floyd video, ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, my revulsion of the system has intensified since having my son and seeing him getting used to Literacy hour and Numeracy hour.

My son goes to a great school where dinosaur eggs and fairy rings can be found in the playground, all of the children are allowed to be themselves and flourish in a small environment.  All the teachers are dedicated and the headteacher likes to get dirty (muddy) with the kids.  The other parents are great and there is no playground or birthday party politics to worry about so in essence everything is pucker.  The only spectre on the horizon is the impact SATs test results have on the school’s OFSTED grading.

It is amazing that the two worst parts of the education system have been reduced to a six letter and three letter acronyms invented by a whole load of toffs that have never experienced children as anything but statistics in long winded reports.  I know they the value added bit so that schools cannot coast any more and low achieving schools can show improvement but the statistics don’t show the things that really matter.

Most parents don’t really give a toss about SATs results because to them their child has achieved so many great things already and the fact that they are still young when they take the tests doesn’t really reflect what they are capable of achieving later on in life. SATs must be the only test that children take that doesn’t reward them with tangible success, if you do well in your GCSE’s you can do A Levels you are interested in, if you do well at A Level you get to the university you want, if you do well at university you increase chances of getting a better job and earning more money.  In reality believing that passing exams alone is going to make you successful is bunkum Bill Gates’s classmates who were good at exams ended up working for him.  Richard Branson was more innovative than academic and Jamie Oliver was a special needs child due to being dyslexic.  They are all millionaires so not doing well at primary school has no real indication of what you are able to achieve.

I completely believe that children should be educated and consider that the social and routine experience of school is as important as the academic part.  The thing that I find difficult to swallow is how children are suddenly expected to develop in a linear fashion when start school as opposed to the opportunistic way I thoroughly enjoyed when my son was younger.

This wonderful infographic by Playdale Playgrounds reminds us how much a child learns through play and that the only levels that they need to be concerned with are the height of the slide.

The Effects Of Play On Child Development

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