Islington Council adopts new policy to encourage risky play
Islington has become the first local authority in England to adopt a policy to ensure that children experience and learn about risk through play.
Islington Council says it is committed to providing unique, accessible and exciting play opportunities for children.
In its Managing Risk in Play Provision policy, the local authority makes clear that avoiding risks which children cannot identify or assess is fundamental to all play provision, but inevitably there will be some element of risk.
It goes on to say that playgrounds are low-risk environments and that the concept of risk benefit is important.
The council’s new guidelines will apply to all play areas within Islington’s parks and open spaces, housing estates, children’s centres and leisure facilities.
Council officers who are responsible for play spaces in the borough will receive training on risk benefit in play including how to use risk benefit assessments when making decision about managing and delivering play opportunities.
The move by Islington Council follows calls from national play organisations, the government and the Health and Safety Executive to allow children to experience risk while outdoors.
Councillor Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said, ‘Islington Council has a long history of supporting children’s play and is now leading the way in introducing this new commitment about the type of play facilities we provide. Of course we want our children to be safe while playing, but playgrounds should also present challenges to help children learn about risk and stretch their abilities.’
Ashley Rogers, senior development officer for Play England, said, ‘I would like to commend the departments involved at Islington Council in developing this excellent suite of information. Play England and many others across the play sector have worked with providers and local authorities for many years to encourage approaches to risk and play such as this, which place children first.’