Play Policy

Our P.L.A.C.E.

A place to explore, create and learn through play.

Cramond Primary School Parent Council

Why is play important?

Don’t they come to school to learn?

August 2014 Cramond Play Strategy

Cramond Primary School Parent Council

We are part of an exciting revolution at Cramond. We have taken the bold step to challenge ourselves, and our children to a whole new learning experience. Our journey started with my first PSA meeting as a new head teacher in 2012. I had already taken the controversial decision to stop children changing their shoes before and after every break- reasoning that it wasted essential learning time. The staff (and parents) waited and watched, warning me of ‘Cramond mud’. The lush, green grassy slopes so admired in May were frequently quagmires by September and grass areas out of bounds. 300 children then were squashed into a rectangular Tarmac area with only a narrow, blind corner path to play round. The superb outdoor classroom was only used with class teacher supervision in the school day. Wet breaks and lunches saw children in classrooms watching DVDs or amusing themselves inside looking out.

The staff and I discussed merits of opening wildlife gardens and introducing den building. It was an overnight success. Kids had a ball and a sort of ‘Lord of the flies’ picture emerged. Scrap material emerged from everywhere, great imagination and creativity was shown, squabbles over turf and building supplies were frequent but mild. I further stressed the situation by introducing a 3 month ban on football – asking pupils to consider other ways to play and open up the grass pitch area to other pupils. Popular with some it was seen as draconian by others! We survived and this shift in attitude to play allowed us to think more creatively when it came to deciding how parent funding could transform our play space. I had a brief discussion with a parent (Martin Stevens) about working with the slopes rather than fighting against them. Perhaps using a few tyres or tunnels, perhaps a rope or two?? Martin came back with such an exciting design proposal it blew myself, staff, the parent council and PSA out of the water! No going back we started a major fundraising and publicity drive, obtained a legacy grant of £42K for matched funding and work started in summer holidays of 2014.

Costs and timescale were an endless to and fro discussion. Martin donated much of his time as a parent and was also nominated by parent council to project manage Our PLACE. The contractors undertaking the work were Edrick who battled through blazing sun, driving rain and long days to complete on time. The play equipment delivery of galleon, cargo net, rope bridge and rope pulls were delayed from Germany. Without the flexibility, generosity, skills, talents , drive and enthusiasm of Edrick and Martin our PLACE would not have evolved to the excellent level it has achieved. Thanks also to the whole Cramond community and fundraising drive fromPSA / CPSC.

August 2014 Cramond Play Strategy

From this to….

Our PLACE encourages mixed age,
mixed gender, interest led playing and learning. It is physically challenging – offering a vast landscape of natural materials to climb, step, hide, slide, run, crawl, jump and explore. Pupils are also offered loose materials such as tyres, kitchen pots and pans, spades, plastic tubs and brushes to use in the environment. Children are learning to take risks safely and encouraged to regulate their own behaviour. Whole staff practical training has complimented our study of the theory of play and concept of learning beyond the classroom. It is a major component in our school improvement plan and links to both our curriculum development and a focus on higher order learning and thinking styles of teaching & learning. It exemplifies the best practice in play strategy curriculum and has been fully backed by City of Edinburgh council as an exciting initiative with clear benefits not only to learning, but also physical & emotional health and well being. Children are reporting they have stretched muscles and are far hungrier for their snack & milk after playtime. We have got rid of the wet weather bell unless weather conditions are dangerous. Staff dynamically risk assess at all times, a change in weather or surface water/ice may mean some areas have restricted access or pupils are more closely supervised or different activities encouraged instead.

Cramond Primary School Parent Council

August 2014 Cramond Play Strategy

Play supervision has shifted from “policing play” to encouraging positive play with everyone’s rights at the centre as we move towards becoming a Rights Respecting School! Pupils are expected to behave in a fair, safe and kind manner. All pupils have been actively involved in drafting risk assessments for all the areas, also suggesting ways to play and ways to reduce any risks they (and staff) had identified.

True play is when children create their own rules and boundaries. It is freely chosen, intrinsically motivated and children are given the opportunity to find out for themselves. We love it! See References:

Risky Play: Why Children Love It and Need It


There are acknowledged to be a number of different play types (around 16) Bob Hughes taxonomy of play. %20of%20play%20types.pdf

Edinburgh grid for learning – play spare_time_activities/474/play_for_families_with_children

Scottish National Strategy for play

Cramond Primary School Parent Council

August 2014

Cramond Play Strategy

Cramond Primary School Parent Council

Thank you for making all this possible: Cramond parents, staff, Pupils & community

Memories are being created at Cramond every day.

On behalf of today’s happy children and those for many years to come, we thank you all.

Sports Scotland match fund grant – £41,000 Scotmid at Barnton donations of £3100

Royal Bank of Scotland donation of £6,000 Lloyds Banking Group various match funding

approx. £1000
Cargilfield school fair donation £1000
Kilt walk £4500 to Our PLACE (same again to charity) Donation from Cramond Kirk – £950

Pupil activities – car washes, bake sales, sponsored events etc £1000 Christmas and summer Fayres – approx £15000
Christmas card sales – approx £800

The Enterprising activities of many individual pupils and groups of friends from care ashes to cake sales, birthday money donation to


Willing donation of free time, ideas, energy and resources of many parents to August 2014 Cramond Play Strategy

August 2014 Cramond Play Strategy

Cramond Primary School Parent Council