Harry Gosling School is in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the poorest areas, certainly in London. The borough suffers from a dearth of open, green space - most children at this school would not have as a matter of ordinary experience access to anything resembling a 'natural' environment.
The school playground that confronted us was the usual sort: a vast expanse of tarmac, and not much else. Breaktime was marked by children having to make do with a fairly impoverished environment offering few play opportunities, the result being a rather frenetic breaktime between lessons.
When the play environment is impoverished, Breaktime Supervisors too often end up primarily fulfilling a policing role along time spent attending to children's minor hurts resulting from accidents.
Our claim is that we address projects 'in the round'. In this project, as well as designing the playground, we introduced the idea of Scrapstore Play Pods - pioneered by the Children’s Scrap Store in Bristol - and also addressed anxieties about risk-taking, a prevalent fear in many schools.
The school also entered into a relationship with our good friends, Hackney Play Association and the Play Association Tower Hamlets (PATH) , who undertook Breaktime Supervisor training along with deploying for a period sessional playworker staff as part of the wider purpose to create a culture of permission at breaktime, rather than one based on prohibition. There is no doubt that children and staff's experience of breaktime changed radically for the better.