So much play in one school play time…

I’ve been feeling a little downhearted this year about education and the way things are going for children in some schools, about their learning and play. So it was uplifting to come across this little film showing something different. And as it’s the shortest day, with the most dark and least light, I thought I’d share it with you.

The film was made during one normal lunch time in a Bristol school that is lucky enough to Continue reading

Dylan Thomas, Parks and Playing Outside the Play Area

I’ve just been filled with inspiration for parks again after reading the Welsh poet and wordsmith Dylan Thomas. I’ll share his wonderful words and childhood memories in a minute.

First, what’s the difference between playing inside or outside the fenced-off play area? Twelve years ago when my children were really little, I spent hours at a time in local parks big and small. Sometimes, by 9am, I’d be down there Continue reading

Mr Ball, Mr Wright and Mr Jay: An Amazing Primary School Education

There were three wonderful teachers in my life when I was little. I’ve never forgotten them. They – and the school – helped to inspire my children’s story St Cuthbert’s Wild School for Boys. And now, 35 years later, I’ve seen them all again…

But let’s go back. It’s 1977, and so far I’ve had a grey school life at a tough and gritty Nottingham primary school, without a blade of grass Continue reading

Boyhood is wonderful

I saw Richard Linklater’s film ‘Boyhood’ last night.  Go and see it if you can – it’s a wonderful, moving film about children growing up.

In case you don’t know, the director made the film over 12 years with the same actors.  It follows an angelic looking boy aged 5 and his sister and separated mum and dad through all sorts of stages and phases and problems and joys (and toys and music and films) as he grows into a boy on a bike, a spotty adolescent, a young man, and then leaves home.

The moment he finally packs up his stuff and it hits his mother that he’s off, that both children are gone, and that her raising of children is done is so brilliantly acted and so moving.

I won’t say more, but whether you relate to the children or the parents it will make you think about time and change and families and love. And as the mother of a 15 year old boy and 13 year old girl, I afterwards saw their lives, too, pass before me like a film.  And how quickly, so quickly, it is going. And how I need to make the most of it.

Go and see it!

Watch Boyhood Trailer



Back To School: Literacy vs English and how learning could be different…


First the wide open days of summer narrow towards September; then the half-exciting half-boring rush of practicalities (new shoes, pencil case…); and then, after an early night, the first day back – nearly always a day of pure late gold.

What I also notice now, in my own children, is a readiness to get on with things after the long holiday and a new willingness to experience school afresh.

If only at that moment, our education system allowed teachers to really seize the inherent hunger for learning and doing that is within children, just think what young people could do!  Continue reading

Tears at a conference on childhood…

In a good way.

Alice and I were presenting Playing Out to hundreds of attendees at the April 2013 Flourish Conference.  It was organised by The Save Childhood Movement, set up following UNICEF research findings that children in the UK are among the unhappiest, most pressurised and commercially vulnerable in the developed world.  In itself, enough to make you want to cry…

“We may not have the answers,” the Movement’s founder Wendy Ellyatt said in 2012, “but what we can no longer say is that we don’t have a problem.”  Flourish brought together Continue reading