The Headteachers who were afraid of snow

Ges Smith, the East London Headteacher who banned children from touching snow, should be fearing the dozens of angry phone calls from parents demanding to know why he has denied children their fundamental right to play.

In an interview with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, the headteacher from the Jo Richardson Community school in Dagenham defended his actions, citing the fact that children need to be ‘fit for work’ before they come into the classroom, as well as fears of being sued if a child at school was injured by a snowball.  Continue reading “The Headteachers who were afraid of snow”

Towards a City of Green and Blue: the Radical Transformation of London

In 2019, thanks to a five-year campaign, London is set to become a National Park City. This would afford the nation’s capital similar similar status to treasured national areas such as the Lake District, Snowdonia or the Norfolk Broads – and get London’s kids more connected to nature.

Utopian dreams of the city have often taken the form of a Grand Plan. From Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement to the Liuzhou Forest City conceived by Stefano Boeri Architetti many urban planners dream of creating an Urban Eden, where high-density development co-exists with cultivated or semi-wild natural spaces (in Garden Cities each householder had a fruit tree planted in their front garden so they could  enjoy the produce).

The concept of London as the world’s first National Park City is potentially as radical as any of these ideas. It has the same visionary edge, but what sets the idea apart is its roots-up, rather than top-down, approach.

Continue reading “Towards a City of Green and Blue: the Radical Transformation of London”

Your iphone says it’s sunny, but your boots are filling with sleet…

As good as weather apps are (and they are good), they’re not infallible, especially in the UK. While they will give you a pretty accurate assessment of weather conditions, they can lull you into a false sense of security.

For the casual outdoors-goer, the birth of the weather app has been a game-changer. Having an hourly update streamed direct to your mobile phone can make you feel like you’re an omniscient weather-god: ‘Sure, it’s blowing a Force Ten Gale now, but thanks to  I can confidently predict the high winds will abate between 2.13 and 3.42 pm, giving way to a gentle breeze from the SW, light cloud, and only a 6.3% chance of precipitation. Meaning, with just a little rescheduling, we can still get our daily hour of outdoors!’

But weather apps aren’t infallible. They can’t tell you definitively what the weather will be like on the spot where you stand. Continue reading “Your iphone says it’s sunny, but your boots are filling with sleet…”

Outdoor People’s reflections on 2017

Round the Outdoor Family Camping campfire in August, one of our amazing Outdoor People volunteers, Sarah Waite (an ethnographer and coach in her 9 to 5 life), got everyone, from youngest to eldest, reflecting on their ‘3 Great Things’ each evening.

It’s a really simple everyday technique that’s proven to help make you happier. Once you’ve started, it gets brilliantly addictive. It’s one of the many simple but profound lessons I took from 2017, and I hope it can help all of you Outdoor Peeps as we move into 2018…

Continue reading “Outdoor People’s reflections on 2017”

How do you turn a looming crisis into a public debate?

Think back to your childhood… Where did you play? How long for? And what did you get out of it?

At the International Seminar on Children’s Play in the Urban Environment last week, I was reminded by one of the speakers, Ali Wood, how important it is, as parents and practitioners, to keep asking these questions. Not just think about what play is, but how, where and when children now actually get the opportunity to play. Not playing computer games (fun as they are), or sport (again fun as that is), but playing as themselves, for themselves. Continue reading “How do you turn a looming crisis into a public debate?”

Come people … gather round the fire!

Our neighbouring borough once celebrated Bonfire night by burning to the ground a huge wooden replica of the Houses of Parliament, a spectacular gesture which was met with loud approval by everyone present. The following year, when Tower Hamlets decided the theme of the celebration should be a Bengali Folk tale, the Mail Online responded by publishing a story which described the decision as ‘Political Correctness gone mad’ (in its own way a tradition every bit as British as burning Guys). Continue reading “Come people … gather round the fire!”