Our activity overview for 2021-22
This is the text from Play Learning Life's 'social impact' Annual Report - a document all social enterprises are required to write and submit to regulator and to Companies House.
PAPPUS – Erasmus +
Play Learning Life CIC is one of 7 partners in an Erasmus+ programme called Plants and Play Promoting Universal Skills (PAPPUS). They key outputs are a Toolkit, website and training programme to help schools and out of school providers make use of plants and the natural environment to deliver the curriculum and promote playful outdoor activities.
Felicity Robinson and Julie Mountain play a key role in this programme, leading the continued development of an extensive library of learning and play springboard resources for the Pappus Toolkit, which are hosted on the project website, www.pappusproject.eu
The intended pace and reach of the programme was significantly affected by Covid-19 lock-downs and travel restrictions and only one of the three planned transnational visits to our partner countries was possible, with others taking place virtually. Julie and Felicity visited Gdansk in March, to meet partners and progress the training elements of the programme.
During 2021-22, the Pappus partners were due to pilot materials in schools and with outdoor learning professionals; this plan was reduced and adapted for smaller groups, social distancing and online delivery. Felicity collaborated with our partners at the University of Gloucestershire to pilot training materials for schools and for outdoor practitioners, providing in person and online support.
The Pappus programme is due to be completed by the end of August 2022 with the final payment anticipated by December 2022.
50 Dangerous Things Camp
Delivery of Play Learning Life CIC’s unique holiday playscheme, (50DT Camp) was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic during 2021-22. It was not possible to offer an Easter camp, but the Summer sessions did go ahead. We also offered a free ‘stay and play’ session at the end of the final summer session, to enable parents to join their children and experience first hand some of the 50DT activities, such as cooking on the fire, climbing trees and building dens.
The camp is inspired by the work of American author and educator Gever Tulley and by play pioneers such as Jean Piaget whose work highlighted learning through playful exploration. 50DT Camp offers adventurous, risky and freely chosen play outdoors all day every day, whatever the weather.
Play Learning Life CIC successfully applied for a grant to provide a series of outdoor PlayDays to celebrate a ‘Summer of Play’ following Covid-19 restrictions on children’s opportunities to play outdoors and with friends over the preceding 18 months.
The grant agreed by New Alresford Town Council covered the costs associated with offering four family focused PlayDays, incorporating large scale loose parts and ‘junk’ (much of which was donated by the local community) and aimed to give parents and children the opportunity to see that the town’s playparks offered much more potential than just ‘kit, fence, carpet’ play. The sessions also helped remind parents of how much fun staying and playing with their children can be, and the PLL facilitators took care to model ‘interacting not interfering’ as they played alongside the families.
Castle View Primary School, Derbyshire
Outdoor play training for a whole school staff, comprising creative thinking workshops, practical outdoor play sessions and webinars / Zoom meetings. The school asked PLL to help them expand the scope of playtimes, encouraging children to collaborate, be more physically active and make better use of the extensive school grounds they have whatever the weather.
The Learning Federation, Romford
Participative learning and play projects involving pupils and teachers at two of The Learning Federation’s schools were completed this year. At Broadford we explored ways to increase natural elements and biodiversity; at Mead we worked on physically active and collaborative playtimes. Students carried out site surveys, questionnaires, made photo journals and developed guidelines to present to school leaders.
Flying Start Early Years, Powys
A integrated action research based CPD programme for early years practitioners, comprising pre-workshop reading, research and practical tasks; a full day face-to-face workshop; remote support for in-setting action research and a follow-up webinar with the group to reflect on their action research projects and outcomes.
Early Years TV
An online training module for early years practitioners providing a successful practice guide to making design and resourcing changes to outdoor play spaces – on a shoestring! This was very well received, and we have been asked to provide a second online module for Early Years TV in 2022-23.
St Conors RC Primary School, Omagh
Through a four-day in-school ‘residency’, Play Learning Life helped the staff, children, governors and after school providers develop design concepts for three areas within the school grounds: physically challenging play on an unused embankment; seating and quieter play spaces in a muddy border to the playground; natural play and physical challenge for early years and P1/2 classes. After consultation, the school decided to focus its budget on the early years area and work will commence in 2022-23.
The Nurtury, London
This domestic property to nursery conversion involved working directly with the setting’s new owner and their design and build contractor – the setting had no staff at this stage. Timing and money was very tight, and some Covid restrictions were still in place, so this was a ‘light touch’ project for PLL, only possible with a very dynamic and driven nursery owner who is taking on the project management herself. Construction will be completed in 2022-23.
YMCA Fairthorne Eastleigh
The garden designed for YMCA Fairthorne opened for children at Easter 2021; during the year we provided additional CPD to enable new staff to make the most of this risk promoting environment.
Promoting the value of outdoor learning and play is not usually an income generating activity for Play Learning Life CIC. However, sharing what we know and interacting with other outdoor and education professionals is a crucial part of the social enterprise’s ethos and without it, our ability to impact the lives of children and young people would be much less.
As a micro-entity with no promotional budget, social media is the main way we share the CIC’s values more widely. In 2021-22 we continued to use Facebook and Twitter to promote the importance of outdoor learning and play.
In addition to the CIC’s own named social media accounts, we also tweet / post under the International School Grounds Alliance banner and also the Pappus programme. 50 Dangerous Things Camp also has a public facing Facebook page and a private one for parents only, which posts news, information and photographs from each day’s camp.
The Play Learning Life website includes a blog as does the 50 Dangerous Things Camp website.
Writing, talks and webinars
The International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) conference was due to take place in Stirling in September 2021 with a Leadership Retreat immediately afterwards. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the conference was postponed until February 2022, but the Retreat took place as planned in September. Julie, as a member of the ISGA’s Executive Committee helped plan and host the Retreat; Felicity and Mary also took part in discussion groups. The ISGA exists to bring together educators and outdoor learning and play professionals to share expertise and promote the importance of taking learning outdoors.