I want in the article that follows, and the next one, to consider aspects of the resistance, current and developing, to what can be called the ‘pro-risk’ movement in respect of play and outdoor learning.
In this, I’m as interested in the subjective, internalised, self-oppression experienced by at least some – I hazard to suggest actually many – practitioners, a symptom of which is abiding by norms that they rationally disavow, as much as objective factors such as the hold Standards have on thought and action.
This piece, I’m afraid, ends in a minor key.
Progress and movement
I remember thinking myself rather bright – a momentary conceit – when, in some essay or other, upon which matter I cannot now recall, I drew a distinction between progress and mere movement, and the danger of mistaking the latter for the former. It is, I think, a not uncommon error which, unchecked, can restrict vision to that which one likes to see. The concomitant danger being threats, barriers and counter-currents come to occupy only one’s peripheral vision, or are pushed out of sight completely.
These musings once again tapped me on the shoulder as I enjoyed the splendid three day 5th International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) conference in Lund, Sweden, hosted by the formidable City of Lund’s Naturskolan team. The programme included visits to some quite delicious school grounds and public spaces. Green, ‘natural’ spaces, needless to say. The taste reference, by the way, is not misplaced since the treats included first rate lunches grown and/or cooked by local schools. Continue reading
Preamble, 28 March 2014
This is a corrected version of the article first posted on the 9 February 2014. In that post I erroneously said that the HSE was the prosecuting authority in the York College nursery case. That was wrong, they were not. I apologise for my error, now corrected. However, the general points raised in the article seem to me to still hold. They therefore remain intact in the piece below.
Since the date of the initial post, there has been an interesting post from Robin Sutcliffe on New Zealand’s approach to compensation and litigation. I urge you to read it. The New Zealand approach is certainly one we should look into to see if it, or some variation of it, might be relevant in the UK.
The York College case
Some readers will be aware of the York College Nursery case in which, sadly and tragically, a three year old child died as a result of becoming entangled in a rope that was attached to the top of a slide.
Prosecutions were launched: the nursery worker was charged with manslaughter and also, under health and safety legislation, of failing to take ‘reasonable care’. She was cleared of all charges, which is a relief.
In addition, York College, owners of the nursery, were charged with failing to secure the health and safety of children. The college was found guilty and will be sentenced on February 2014. They are liable for unlimited fines. (Update: the fine was £175,000. Judge’s sentencing remarks here.)
I want to tread cautiously in commenting at this stage. I will not comment at this time on the findings against the college. Nevertheless some initial thoughts arising from the charge against the nursery worker and another case, can be shared. Continue reading