A head’s reflections on playtime and a job well done – PP167

Tim Browse
Tim Browse

Mike interviews Tim Browse this week for our final episode of the academic year. Tim is headteacher at Hillcrest Primary School in Bristol although he is moving on in September. Mike went on a two-day visit to Hillcrest and was struck by the great learning going on inside but it was in the playground that he was surprised by what he saw. There were chickens, children on spacehoppers, children stacking boxes , children tying crates together, walking round on stilts or riding sleds. It looked like chaos but it seemed to be purposeful chaos – all the children seemed to be highly engaged and happy.

Tim explains the equipment is called Play Pod and it’s supplied through Bristol Scrap Store. It encourages creative play in a situation where the school has no green space at all.

“It’s the kind of playground where if you don’t like football you might find it a bit an overwhelming place to be.”

With only funds available for one Play Pod, they had to make a decision whether to put it in the Key Stage 1 or the Key Stage 2 playground. So they decided to think differently and abandon separate playgrounds for Key Stages. This was a great idea and the results are clear in the great play between all children. They build dens and space rockets and all play together.

There used to be an indoor ‘chill club’ for those children who found it difficult in the outdoor environment and these children had additional time with the scrap store equipment in smaller groups. Now, these groups are able to access the outside all the time because the scrap has given them a focussed sense of play.

“We’ve seen more quality play and we’ve seen fewer playground upsets.”

Tim points out that seeing children at play in this new way has really helped the adults who work with nurture groups.

Listen to the episode to hear how Tim overcame an unexpected behaviour issue and lots of other inspirational stories!

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