Sunday 8 May 2011

Woodchip Vigilante

Jago's Pirate treasure!

For the past year I've been harbouring a criminal - my son. It started as innocent playing around in the school playground. Then he'd have special items he'd bring home. Now it's daily pockets full of the stuff I'm pulling out to save our poor old washing machine.

It's nice stuff, too. Not the stuff you get free from the council on allotments, but washed, treated, splinter free -  you can pay £15 a bag for from garden centres.

A couple of weeks ago the reception play area was finally cordoned off with red and white tape. Initial thoughts were, what if all the children were taking woodchip? Did teaching staff uncover a tunnel? Was  my little Jago selling woodchip on black market?

Rumours among parents was fox poo in the play area, confirmed in school newsletter when it was announced woodchip was to be replaced by rubber.

As a parent, I can understand removal of poo is unpleasant, but how much of a risk is poo, which is afterall easily identified and removed in woodchip in the daily morning risk assessment schools carry out - (look for flies and signs of digging).

How effective is rubberising a playground in removing risks? Where there are foxes there will be rats, cats and they'll need to poo somewhere. Short of corking the wildlife, you will get poo in a playground.  Is rubberizing really safeguarding our children, or a token gesture? Do the children only play on a large plain of clean rubber, or will some find the holes in the hedge, the dark corners under a tree, or the small gap between the shed and the classroom?

We've got quite a collection of notes from school for injuries of ever kind. Undoubtedly the playground is by far the most dangerous place in the school, but bumps and grazes are as likely on rubber, woodchip, grass or (dare we think it!) any more natural surfaces.  I'm all for removal and management of risks but shouldn't we be looking to see what the children are doing on, or with, any surface before we remove it? Are we risking sanitising another area of school while all the children play elsewhere?

Long may our kids bring home their treasures of gravel, woodchip, twigs and funny bits of plastic, unwanted and sometimes a little grubby, and here's hoping they end up in our garden, and not the washing machine.

Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media


  1. This post really made me laugh!

    Health and safety gone mad though... You're right...

    Thanks for commenting on my blog today. You made some really insightful points and you're right.. I need to think more creatively about how to generate discussion as it's about quality not quantity.

  2. I have no idea when that profile was generated but this is Pooky (@creativeedu) from the creative education blog...

    As a parent you might also like my personal blog which is a very tongue in cheek look at my daily life with a 14 month old and a 17 month old.

  3. I'll keep enjoying and following your blogs, and will work at being better at commenting. Two under two, and still able to put so much thought and energy into what you do? Amazing.

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