We anticipated a certain amount of glee when Wentworth’s children encountered for the first time their new school outdoors. We were right. And better still, the new play and learning environment continues to act as a prompt and facilitator of children’s curiosity and joy.
PLAYLINK tends to shudder when it hears the word ‘partnership’ - it has become a ‘go-to’ term in practice so often devoid of meaning. But not in this case.
The new outdoors is the issue of a genuine partnership between the school’s Head teacher, staff and PLAYLINK. The basis of that partnership was, and is, a shared value system, one that understands the pedagogical potential of a ‘natural’ environment for learning and play; and this tied to a positive stance in relation to children’s need and wish to engage in beneficial risk-taking.
Our design is good, but it’s good in the sense that it creates spaces of invitation, not prescription. It’s quite good looking too.
But perhaps best of all from our perspective, is the militantly un-designed, wonderfully ramshackle ‘shelter’ that was part of the school grounds when we arrived and, as with the biblical sacred holy of holies, we neither dared nor wished to change. Much goes on in this tented space, all sorts of play and learning, along with the delights of mud and mess.
Risk-taking, mud, mess, skilled and committed pedagogues – not a bad recipe.