This policy outlines good practice for facilitating risky play, roles/ responsibilities of the FS leader and supporting adults and the power of choice in a FS environment.

Risk Benefit – What is it? 

This is a risk management tool to help consider and maintain a positive approach when facilitating risky play. ‘Risky Play’ are activities which may involve children playing and learning whilst there may be some risk associated with that activity, for example climbing trees, playing in streams, playing with natural materials etc. 

Many activities within a FS environment involve some kind of risk. Equally they have a benefit to individuals and should be promoted. Helping individuals learn new skills and develop self-esteem, relationship building, creative expression, interpersonal skills and self-confidence. 

The purpose of a risk benefit analysis is to make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks by actively making activities safe enough through prior planning, communication and H&S practices.

Adult Responsibilities

Supporting adults are required to facilitate and approach risky play with the confidence that children are able to manage risks for themselves. Carrying out dynamic risk assessment jointly with children before starting an activity will help negate some risk involved; as will correct supervision as set out in the tool safety policy. 

Obviously it is our ‘duty of care’ to intervene and ‘stop’ learners who are not managing risky activities well. At which point, being careful not to just address and discipline a child, instead opening a two way discussion to help the child reflect on what was happening and how they can manage an activity safely.

Supporting adults must find a balance between giving children freedom to make mistakes in a safe way, whilst avoiding harm from occurring. It is our objective to help empower children to manage risks for themselves. By modeling safe practices of how to manage risk dynamically, we are promoting reflective and thoughtful attitudes towards working and playing safely. Allowing opportunities for reflection, we aim to support children with considering the impact of their own actions on themselves and on others.

The power of choice

A child-centered pedagogical approach that is responsive to the needs and interests of children will help accelerate learning and a connection with the natural environment in a holistic way. Play & choice are an integral part of the learning process, these should be recognised and valued by all supporting adults. A child-centered approach and commitment to play and choice will provide stimulus for all learning preferences and dispositions. Through careful observations and attuning to the needs and interests of individuals, FS sessions can and should be child led, ‘in the moment’, as much as is reasonably practical. These ‘moments’ should be seized upon to allow the natural development of individuals’ curiosities and insights.