Poet joins psychologists to fight the erosion of school playtime

The poet Michael Rosen has joined forces with the British Psychological Society (BPS) to make the case for stopping the erosion of school playtime.

In a new video called ‘Right to play’, Michael says: “Play is not an extra. It isn’t an add on. Play is a fundamental human right.”

After research undertaken by The University of Manchester raised the profile of the importance of children’s play, the British Psychological Society published a paper last year on the importance of play to children.

It said child-led play is critical to their development and wellbeing, and that schools should never take away play time from them as a punishment.Now, this new video sees children making the case for play themselves with narration from Michael Rosen.

The video features primary school children from Luton and London talking about why play is important to them, intercut with insights from psychology research.

“Hearing from the children themselves in this video about the impact of play on their lives reinforces the need to evaluate educational policy, to ensure that play opportunities are integral to the school day for every child,” said Dr Cathy Atkinson, Senior Lecturer in Education & Child Psychology and Curriculum Director of the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology Programme at The University in Manchester, whose research with trainee educational psychologists led to the paper being published by the BPS.

“Our paper on the importance of play in schools last year attracted a lot of attention because the pressure on play is a growing problem,” said Dan O’Hare from the British Psychological Society. “Children’s break time has been reduced by 45 minutes a week in recent years, and one of the results is that eight out of ten children now do less than one hour of physical activity per day.“

We are grateful to Michael Rosen and the children in the video for helping us make the case that play is vital for schoolchildren. Because play isn’t just a means to an end – it’s fundamental to children’s development and wellbeing.

Dan O’Hare, British Psychological Society