PlayBoard’s Positive PlayGrounds training shares the importance of play in schools ahead of the new school year.

As we approached the end of the summer season, PlayBoard staff were on the road, travelling across Northern Ireland from Lisnaskea to Kircubbin, delivering our Positive PlayGrounds training to a number of primary schools.

Positive PlayGrounds assists primary schools to re-examine their approach to the use of playgrounds, and to value them as important spaces for play-based development and learning. For many children and young people, the school playground is the only open, accessible space regularly available that allows them to engage in physically challenging and socially developmental outdoor play.

PlayBoard’s Positive PlayGrounds training programme has been supporting primary schools in developing outdoor play for over 16 years, with delivery in over 300 schools. Positive PlayGrounds staff training aims to embed a greater understanding of play and how schools can best support and enhance play opportunities, covering a range of areas including: play benefits; play barriers; quality approaches to play; risk and challenge; and planning approaches to develop play.

Becca Smith, Maeve McLaughlin and Shauneen McCusker delivered the training sessions to teaching and non-teaching staff. The sessions looked at the importance of outdoor play for children and role of the adult during their play.

To begin, staff carried out a baseline assessment of their playground looking at a number of aspects such as the play the children engaged with, the resources available to them, and the space they played in. The training then provided staff with tips on what adult intervention should look like, and specific ideas to bridge the gaps identified in the playground audit. PlayBoard staff then introduced the risk-benefit approach to the school staff and how this could be included in the school’s health and safety procedures.

Finally, staff participated in practical games suitable for the playground during break and lunch times. These included a combination of team/cooperative games as well as traditional and parachute games.

“The training was delivered to a very high standard and some valuable suggestions were made – I plan to take them onboard and it also made me see how much fun we could have with the children during play.”

“The training was very informative and filled with lots of fun too.”

“Children need more freedom to explore during their outdoor play.”

“I’ve learnt that we should be using play to help the children who struggle socially and with their behaviour in school.”

Positive PlayGrounds training feedback

Read more about our Play in Schools programmes which help schools enhance and improve outdoor play opportunities.