As a topic of conversation, the role and scope of play equipment and surfacing standards may appear somewhat dry and technical, a bit of a turn-off. But consider this:
- The playground equipment and surfacing industry here in the UK has an estimated annual turnover in the order of £170m – £200m, a significant proportion of which is in effect funded by taxpayers and charitable funders. Question has to be: Does that spend represent value for money, is it doing the best possible work for children’s play opportunities?
- And a wider question: Are decisions about the detail of play provision spending lodged in the right hands? Is decision-making about play provision well-balanced, or askew?
Those latter questions should counter the notion that questions about standards are merely dry and technical. In this article I speculate as to what benefits might flow from a rationalisation of play equipment and surfacing standards. Continue reading
It’s often hard to predict what will generate an active interest in an issue. The issue may have been around for a good deal of time, indeed may have been a source of worry or irritation but, somehow, the matter appears impenetrable, difficult to grasp.
Such, arguably, is how many play provision providers have felt and still feel about playground equipment and surfacing standards. Decisions are promulgated, they seem to bear a stamp of authority, yet there is a persistent sense of disconnect between decision-makers, and those affected by their pronouncements. The relevance of standards is asserted by the bodies that generate them, but in many of the settings affected by them, there is doubt. Such doubts hitherto have been muted, not channelled or organised, or, indeed, been the subject of much debate.
We may, however, be witnessing a change. We may be experiencing by those affected by standards a nascent sense of empowerment. The sense that if current arrangements for generating standards are perpetuated, then bad decisions will continue to made. That what is required, is a fundamental rethink about standards, the values that inform them, the structures and the processes that generate them. It is, as I say, a nascent sense of empowerment, not by any means fully formed. Continue reading