It’s hard to know exactly how we’re going to come out of lockdown, despite the rumours and the guesses. It’s certainly a complex challenge to negotiate, but in the midst of this dilemma a group of several experts from education, child development, psychology, and child psychiatry are trying to make sure that children’s wellbeing is put front and centre.
The group’s initiative is called Play First, and they want to make sure that children’s need to play is prioritised as much as their need to catch up academically, as they return to school. They’ve written a letter to MP Gavin Williamson with some practical advice on how to achieve this safely (like children taking turns to play in small groups) along with a clear summary of the evidence that their views are based on.
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A study published last week by UCL Institute of Education and the Nuffield Foundation found that over the last 25 years children aged 5-7 have 45 minutes less break time than before, and 11-16 year olds have 65 minutes less.
The erosion of playtime is unsurprising, given the increasing focus on exam results and school league tables over the last 25 years. I imagine it’s just a case of teachers trying to fit more and more into the school day.
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Over 100,000 children referred to local mental health services in England have been rejected for treatment in the last two years. Figures requested from NHS Trusts by the NSPCC, released today, show that an average of 150 referrals a day are turned away from NHS children’s mental health services, despite Childline reporting record numbers of calls. From a total of 652,023 cases referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), 109,613 children were turned away. The NSPCC has called on Government to focus on early intervention to reduce numbers who reach crisis point. Continue reading →