St John the Baptist Church of England School
At St John the Baptist Church of England School in
Hoxton, play is a fundamental part of the school’s curriculum. The
head teacher believes that introducing innovative play ideas in
their school has improved the quality of children’s education and
their enjoyment of school.
The school, in the London Borough of Hackney,
set out a long-term programme to tackle poor grades and problem
behaviour through developing innovative play spaces designed for,
and with, the children.
Adventure playground structures, with cargo nets, aerial
walkways, zip wire, sand pit and a large stage area, have been
built in the playground.
Classrooms extend into the playground, sheltered by a glass roof
canopy. There are flower gardens, and children grow their own
organic vegetables which are used by kitchen staff for school
dinners. Teachers are free to use the play facilities at the school
to help them to teach aspects of the curriculum.
The school is located in a diversely populated and socially
deprived area. Since developing the play facilities, the school has
seen drastic changes in terms of attendance records, academic
grades and even improvements in the children’s behaviour. Ofsted
inspections have also documented significant improvements in the
overall running of the school.
Children were involved in the design of the play facilities and
consulted about what they wanted out of the adventure playground.
Children created models of ideas for the structures and voted on
what would be included. This is reflected in the challenging play
structures and green spaces now in the playground.
Along with neighbouring schools, St John the Baptist offers an
extended school service, including a breakfast club and has offered
a holiday scheme for people in the local community to use the
Funding for the play features came from additional grants from
charitable funders, rather than from core school funding.
Playworkers regularly visit the school to improve children’s play
experiences, and teachers and parents are being trained as NVQ
level playworkers to help supervise the extended school services.
The school has employed a full-time play manager who will further
extend the services and work with the school to develop the
relationship between play and learning.
Starting autumn 2009, school staff will start a Masters in Play,
which will be funded by the school. The school is working with a
number of professionals to achieve this and hopes that this will
help to highlight the role of play in education and
Outside school hours, the playground is open over the Easter and
summer holidays. From September 2009 the grounds will also be open
during weekends and half-term.
For further information contact Louise Rosen (Head Teacher)
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