Children need adventure and they need to take risks. Being wrapped up in cotton wool never taught anyone how to deal with the challenges of life. Conquering those challenges also builds self-confidence and the ability to progress to the next level.
‘Teaching children about safety helps them identify and respond to potential dangers and make safe choices in different situations. Additionally, it gives them the skills and knowledge they need to navigate challenging situations, which boosts their confidence and resilience.’ https://www.momjunction.com/articles/safety-rules-you-should-teach-your-children_00121675/
It is the adult’s job, however, to ensure that all these vital scenes of independence, risk and adventure are performed on a stage that is inherently safe. There are risks that are learning opportunities…and there are risks that are just plain dangerous.
It is unsettling, often distressing, to hear so much bad news about child safety on the news nowadays. So often we find ourselves thinking, “That should just never have happened” or “How on earth was that allowed to happen?” In a happier world, children are the pride and purpose of their parents’ lives; they are the nurtured future for all of us, enabling them to develop into the custodians of the well-being of the world.
Idealistic? Maybe. Possible? Yes.
‘An estimated 700,000 children are being taught in unsafe or ageing school buildings in England that need major repairs.’ Despite this ‘An official said, “nothing is more important” than safety at school. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-66030635).
Let us hope, therefore, that the DfE will indeed bring genuine change by “significantly investing in transforming schools”. A fundamentally unsafe environment is not a fair springboard for child development.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes clear that children have the right to feel safe and to be safe at all times. The importance of adequate systems and structures to support student safety in schools and to respond to concerns for safety cannot be understated. Within schools, feeling and being safe is essential for students to be ready and able to engage with learning (https://ccyp.wa.gov.au/media/2801/feeling-safe.pdf).
Schools with safe and supportive climates take into account the holistic needs of teachers and students. Engaging, high-quality instruction is key, but so are opportunities for physical activity and unstructured, student-led games and playground time. Daily schedules should have time for exercise outdoors. https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/children-learn-best-when-they-feel-safe-and-valued
So many discussions relating to child safety and positive development revolve around the importance of children engaging in physical activity, individual and team sport and fitness, plus the need to be outside. All this is led by core natural impulses but structure and supervision are vital if the benefits are to be achieved safely. Hence, the government’s recognition that ‘Commitment from senior management is essential for effective health and safety management. Strong leadership is also vital.’ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-and-safety-advice-for-schools/responsibilities-and-duties-for-schools
Guidance from the government includes leaders’ need to:
- Plan – leaders should set the direction for effective health and safety management
- Do – introduce management systems and practices that ensure risks are dealt with sensibly, responsibly and proportionately
- Check – monitoring and reporting
- Act – a formal management review of health and safety performance
They must also consider:
- the hazards
- how people might be harmed by them
- what they have in place to control risk
This guidance, mirrors Sportsafe’s own working strategies combined with our proven experience of providing optimum sports, fitness and play installations, maintenance and inspections for pre-school, primary and secondary schools. We also plan, do, check and act whilst keeping safety at the core of everything we do. Every stage of every product supply, project or installation is led by engineers and trained, specialist teams who are not only committed to supporting the next generation but who know there is nothing more important than safety at school.