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Your advice needed on wet weather play

(16 Posts)
expansivegirth Sun 23-Sep-12 21:07:02

Dear All,

I would like your advice please.

Our otherwise very nice school herds the children inside during any kind of weather that is slightly wetter than the faintest drizzle.

They all the infants sit and watch a DVD. They do not an educational DVD - ie a half hour nature programme or even quality children's films. Instead, they watch bits of Disney DVDs e.g. the first half hour of Tangled, which means they don't even get the full story. Just a little snatch of narrative, before it is turned off and they are sent back to their lessons at the end of break.

I would prefer it if all the kids played outside in anything less than p***ing down. I would be happy to help fundraise for cheap rain coats and boots so that there is no pressure on the parents (low income area) to provide these.

Barring this, I would actually prefer it if the children were just left to play with toys, or draw, or read or entertain themselves when it rains. I am not clear why this doesn't happen. I realise that TV is easier - and perhaps needs less teacherly supervision??? - but I've managed to raise three children without a TV and after a while the kids just get used to having fun without a screen. It can be done!

(And this is one of the things that irks me: the school urging parents to have less screen time, and then putting them in front of DVDs... last term this happened all the time because of our dreadful summer).

My questions to you are:

1. What does your school do in the rain?

2. And does any teacher know if there are good reasons - other than laziness - why the kids might watch TV rather than have supervised play (for example, is there a smaller number of playground monitors than there are teachers to a class. Does it mean they won't get a break?).

3. What can I plausibly suggest to the head teacher as an alternative to the current arrangement?

I am not the only parent to be frustrated by this, so would really appreciate some advice.

We didn't watch TV in my state primary school so I know it can be done!

snowball3 Sun 23-Sep-12 21:22:23

Each class stays in its own room if the weather is too bad to go out. Each classroom has a "wet play box" that comes out. I have year 5/6 so my box has chess, draughts, monopoly, Risk, lots of different Top Trumps cards, electronic quiz packs, the stacking cups sets, fibre tipped pens and paper for colouring. Other classes will have age appropriate alternatives ( lego is a favourite). There are 2 staff on duty and they wander between two classrooms each ( we are a 4 class school)
We NEVER show DVD's during wet play

expansivegirth Sun 23-Sep-12 21:50:06

Thank you. Our school is two form entry. Would the staff ratio need to be different for infants? (Unfortunately the school is configured in such a way that it is impossible for teachers to move easily between the two classes in one year group). Does this in any way affect the ability of the teachers/tas to have lunch breaks?

expansivegirth Sun 23-Sep-12 21:50:38

lunch/tea breaks. Sorry pressing post too soon.
v. glad to hear it's not impossible.

WofflingOn Sun 23-Sep-12 21:54:02

We are out unless the rain is heavy, then like snowball we have a wet play cupboard.
Staffing is restricted, we usually have 4 staff on duty at a time. So not one for each classroom. Teachers are entitled to a midmorning break and a lunchbreak.

kennythekangaroo Sun 23-Sep-12 21:59:22

We are out unless it is bucketing down. If we go in, the staff lose their break as they have to supervise. We tend to put iplayer on in 1 classroom and let the children colour/do construction in the other with 1/2 member of staff supervising 60 children in 2 rooms. At lunchtime it would be just 1 dinnerlady for the year group of 60 .

expansivegirth Sun 23-Sep-12 22:00:53

I agree that staff need tea and lunch breaks. What I'm really asking is there something about the staff/pupil ratio that means you need less staff for the playground duty than you do for sitting in a hall watching a DVD with three year groups or supervising individual classes in their individual classrooms?

expansivegirth Sun 23-Sep-12 22:04:00

Ah. I think at our school the TV might be used to stop staff loosing their lunch break as three years are put in the main hall and left to watch a film collectively. As they're in one place I guess they need less supervision (or supervision only by those who were on playground duty?).

Do you think regularly watching DVDs when it rains should be an option? Or do you think it is reasonable to expect that the school tries to find a more creative alternative (given it's anti-screen advice to parents!).

anairofhope Sun 23-Sep-12 22:10:05

As a mum of a 3 yo who has started foundation if its too wet to go out and i had a choice i would like my son to do sport in the hall such as football or tag or rounders so he gets to run round and use up energy then go back in a classroom.

I dont know if that helps but i think young children need to run round for a bit.

WofflingOn Sun 23-Sep-12 22:12:50

Nice idea, and in an ideal world that would work, However, we have 2 form entry, so that would mean 180 children in the hall. In KS2 that would be 240 children, and the hall is also used for lunches.

CaptainFlack Mon 24-Sep-12 13:28:17

I'm watching with interest! I'll be interested to see what DS says he did during wet play today, he joined the school 3 weeks before the end of the summer term and watched about 4 films in that time. There was a LOT of rain during those weeks I know, plus it was the end of term, but I had misgivings even then. It bothers me because not all films are suitable for all kids, he watched Ariel with the year R kids and he was very afraid of the sea witch character. At least you can control what they watch at home, plus, some kids watch way too much TV at home so it is a shame that they watch more at school, a place of learning...

I like the idea of the wet day box, my DS had that in his last school and loved the chance to play Lego at school! Anyway, we'll see what has happened today...

tiggytape Mon 24-Sep-12 13:41:24

Wet play is really tricky as generally the low numbers of staff on playground duty are going to be totally unable to supervise anything but the most basic activities. In our school children used to be left in their own classrooms with craft activities and colouring but they now all go into the halls or other communal areas. There isn't one member of staff per class at lunchtime to supervise and having someone pop their head round the door every 15 minutes (being shared out amongst 4 classes or more) very definitely wasn't enough when scissors are being used, arguments are breaking out and kids are charging round the desks pretending to be super heroes! Now all of ours watch videos too – I think it is a purely staff ratio / supervision problem.

In terms of fund raising to go out in the rain – realistically it is the time taken to get in and out of wet weather gear and the space needed to dry then store it that is likely to be the main sticking point. When you are dealing with hundreds of children all at once, it isn’t always feasible to entertain them in the same way as you would if you had 2 or 3 children at home unfortunately. That said, some schools have much more room than others with cloakrooms and lobbies and I know some more spacious schools do manage this kind of thing better.

GoldenGreen Mon 24-Sep-12 13:48:50

The mess and clutter in my hallway after two children being out in the rain is fairly astounding. I can't imagine what it would be like in school after 200+ children have been splashing outside with no parents to help get everyone warm and dry and into the classrooms with no fuss. Not fair on the teachers and caretakers to expect kids to go out in rain. Not to mention it's not pleasant for the kids after a while.

DVD watching wouldn't concern me too much, especially if they made an effort to tie the DVDs in to their curriculum (ds's school tends to do this). I would however be very unimpressed if they told me to restrict DVD watching at home - I would want a good explanation as to why this was any of their business.

MushroomSoup Mon 24-Sep-12 19:11:30

I'm a primary Head. Every single child with a coat goes outside unless it's absolutely torrential - only because then it would be too hard to dry stuff off. If children have no coat, they're supervised in the library and feel they are missing out!

UniS Mon 24-Sep-12 19:35:23

I'm an MTA. All outside with coats on unless its torrential. drizzle we stay out in. If no coat in year R or 1 they get a school coat, further up the school , they get wet. Amazing how many coats "turn up in bags" when kids realise they WILL be going outside.

IF they are indoors , each class goes to own classroom tho 5 & 6 may be combined. and R and 1 can free flow between the 2 rooms.

The staggered lunchbreak makes it a little easier to supervise as some MTAs start with KS1 and move onto KS2 after KS2 have eaten.

clam Mon 24-Sep-12 20:23:48

"Every single child with a coat"

<<hollow laugh>>

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