Term and Holiday Dates 2017 - 2018

Autumn Term: Mon 04 Sept '17 - Fri 20 Oct '17
Autumn Term: Mon 30 Oct '17 - Wed 20 Dec '17
Spring Term: Thur 04 Jan '18 - Fri 09 Feb '18
Spring Term: Mon 19 Feb '18 - Thur 29 Mar '18
Summer Term: Mon 16 Apr '18 - Fri 25 May '18
Summer Term: Mon 04 Jun '18 - Tues 24 July '18

(Use as a guide only. Dates may differ between regions, please check you local area here).

By Jon Alexander 15 Nov, 2017

In 2015, the Government found that 1 in 5 children were obese, with 1 in 3 obese or overweight. Yes – really! Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. What does that mean? Well, it spells an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties. That’s not mentioning the potential impact on children’s mental health and self consciousness.

It also means more unhealthy children growing into unhealthy adults, with the development of serious diseases more likely as time goes on. But what can schools do? A great deal, actually! Here are four simple steps your school can take to tackle childhood obesity.

 

1.   Get out and play!

Exercise is essential for any person’s health – child or adult. Even if someone eats well or is the “ideal” weight, a lack of activity can have a negative impact on muscles, organs and joints. In addition to PE, which is required on the national curriculum, schools can encourage active play during break times too. Lucky for us, children love playing! They just need the right space and facilities to do so.

 

2.   Promote cooperation and friendship

Getting children to play can be a problem if they feel isolated. Schools should encourage children to make strong friendships. Here are some ideas:

·        Icebreaker activities to introduce children from day one.

·        Group activities in lessons.

·        Team games in PE lessons.

·        Change around seating plans to get children talking to different classmates.

 

3.   Food education

They say you are what you eat – and, to some extent, it’s true! Even the most active child will not be healthy if they aren’t eating the right food. As well as offering balanced meals and healthy snacks, schools should look to educate children about food so they make the right choices at home and in future.

Worried about squeezing it into the already-jammed timetable? Try incorporating it into other lessons, like maths, science and art.

 

4.   Mental support

Being overweight can affect the mental wellbeing of children. But it can also work the other way . If a child doesn’t feel supported, they’re less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle. And where do kids look for support? Adults, of course. Make sure children are supported at school by offering them the chance to talk about any issues and reinforcing positive thinking.

 

Providing the means for a healthy lifestyle

You can’t force a healthy lifestyle on children, but at school you can give them the knowledge and means to pursue it themselves. At Playcubed , we provide tailored play areas and facilities to schools across Greater London. Covering consultation, design, presentation and installation, our service makes it easy for your school to get the perfect play areas and facilities. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

By Jon Alexander 16 Oct, 2017

EduKent EXPO & Conference is Kent’s leading event for the promotion and development of effective school leadership, management, learning and teaching featuring a high-level conference, inspirational workshops and a comprehensive exhibition of leading suppliers of services to schools and academies.

In November 2016, the fifth EduKent EXPO & Conference brought together hundreds of education leaders from across Kent and neighbouring counties - to share best practice and new ideas on managing and developing education in the region.

Continuing to build upon previous successes, the 2017 event will take place on Wednesday 8th November at The Kent Event Centre, Kent Showground, Detling ( view on maps ).


Free-to-attend

This free-to-attend event is Kent’s largest exhibition and conference for the county’s Head Teachers, Finance Directors, Bursars, Business Managers, Governors, Local Authority education leaders, PTA’s, IT Managers and school leadership teams from the state, academy and private sectors.

Delegates benefit from a unique opportunity to meet key suppliers in the market and attend a wide range of free conference sessions - hearing directly from senior figures who set education policy and strategic direction across the national and local education agenda. High-quality content provides practical advice on how to achieve outstanding results through strong leadership, excellent teaching and effective management systems.

Breakfast, lunch, refreshments and parking are all free-of-charge for all delegates!


The place for quality education support services

EduKent has been developed by Kent County Council in response to the rapidly changing educational environment and is designed to meet the needs of schools and academies by providing education support services, all in one place. By building on the success of Kent Services for Schools and by combining such established services as Schools Personnel Service, EIS and Schools Financial Services with the newer service providers, EduKent offers high quality, competitively priced services delivered by experienced staff, to assist in improving outcomes for all pupils.


Come and see Playcubed at Stand 229

We will be exhibiting at Stand 229. Be sure to drop past to meet the team and discuss any outdoor developments at your school.

CLICK HERE  to book your free place and make sure your school is represented.

By Jon Alexander 09 Oct, 2017

Learning the senses is a key part of a child’s primary education. Ask most young children and they’ll be able to list sight, sound, smell, touch and taste (or close enough anyway). But what about learning through the senses? Sensory play engages children, helping them explore and discover the world. Read on to explore how sensory play helps children learn, in more ways than one.

 

Getting touchy

Speak to most people about sensory play and they’ll assume you mean touching and feeling. They wouldn’t be wrong – touch is one of the senses, and is an essential part of sensory play. But it’s also important to engage children with sights, smells, sounds and even tastes. Colourful, aromatic plants, sensory panels and textured surfaces are just some of the ways to ensure children are using all of their senses.

 

Two types of motor skills

Running, walking and climbing help children improve their motor skills. Or, more specifically, they develop their gross motor skills, dealing with large muscle groups for dynamic activities. But what about their fine motor skills?

No, we don’t expect kids to fix a faulty gearbox. This applies to smaller muscle groups, essential for things like writing and shoe-tying. Yes – all the things you want children to master in their early years. Sensory play absorbs children with activities involving fine motor skills, exploring things like squeezing, pinching and lacing.

 

Language skills

As any parent or teacher will know, language is essential to children’s development. It’s how they understand the world around them and express ideas and emotions. Can sensory play help? 100% yes! When you’re learning new words and ideas, the touch, sound and smell of objects can bring them to life.

Point at a picture of a tree and explain it to a child. They’ll probably learn it eventually. But when they can see it up close, feel the rough bark and smell the fresh leaves, it suddenly becomes more real, memorable and easier to understand.

How about concepts and comparisons? Try explaining smooth and rough objects to a child without letting them feel them and experience them. It’s almost impossible for them to understand. With sensory play providing a range of colours, textures and smells to children, this comes naturally.

 

Engaging children with sensory play areas

With clear benefits for children’s learning, sensory play facilities are a superb addition to any educational environment. If you want to add a versatile, engaging sensory play area to your school, Playcubed can help. We provide tailored facilities for sensory play to schools around London and the South East of England. Offering full consultation, planning and installation, we’re the perfect solution to all your sensory play needs. Get in touch today to discuss your project.

By Jon Alexander 28 Sep, 2017

In a world where 'push of a button' entertainment is taking over, playing gives children a much-needed fitness boost. It’s no secret that it also helps them grow socially – communicating, co-operating and competing with their peers, plus a host of other benefits you can read about in our post: The Top 5 Reasons to Play Everyday

But what about maths? As a core subject, it’s at the top of all schools’ list of priorities. But does playing have a role in mathematical development? Read on and explore the link between the two.

 

Combining targets

Why is mathematical ability so important? Quite simply, because it extends to so many parts of life as children grow up. What it also does, however, is manifests itself in things they do from an early age. Because playing incorporates such a wide range of skills, including those linking to maths, it can have a noticeable impact on a child’s mathematical ability.

A 2013 study found that play with block structures had a strong correlation with mathematical ability. They separately assessed the block playing and athematical ability of over a hundred three-year-olds, finding that those who were better at copying structures were also better at maths. Researchers concluded that something as simple as block building improves children’s spatial skills, which then supports the development of problem solving in later life.

By Jon Alexander 27 Sep, 2017

From cognitive development to social skills and physical health, there’s no end to the benefits of a high-quality school playground. Children learn to communicate, cooperate and explore, all while moving around and improving their fitness. But with budgets being cut, many schools need to look at alternative ways to raise money for these kind of developments. 

Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds! Read on for six simple ways to raise funds, and have a LOT of fun and learning in the process!

 

1.   Get moving

It can be hard getting people to put their hand in their pockets and just give money, but it’s much easier when they know you’re doing something challenging for it. Run a 10k, swim a long distance or walk to school for the term – and get as many people involved as possible. Increasing the number of people participating broadens the sponsorship opportunities and can bring in some serious money. 

 

2.   Jumble sale

Ask staff, pupils and parents to bring things in they no longer need. You could be specific, asking for books, or just leave it to their imagination. Hold a jumble sale (or book sale) with these items, and you’ll soon find you’re a lot closer to hitting the target (as well as freeing up space around everyone’s homes). Cake sales are always popular too, and parents are often happy to bake and donate cakes for the school to sell.

Top tip: Make the most of valuable items by raffling them off with tickets at £2 each.

 

3.   Craft, create and sell

It’s not just used and unwanted items you can sell, there’s also plenty of things that can be created yourself. Even better, they can be made as part of a fun activity for pupils. Grow plants, bake cakes, and make arts and crafts. Parents and the local community will love buying them knowing they’ve been made by the children themselves, and for a good cause.

 

4.   Battle of the bands

Everyone has a song in them, right? With a bit of practice, most schools can put together a decent musical line up. Whether it’s teacher, pupils or a mix of the two, the show will attract plenty of attention, get the children working together and raise a lot of money from ticket sales. How about a talent show or an X-factor evening?

 

5.   Non-uniform day

Non-uniform days are a common occurrence at the end of term, and always popular with the children. Why not use them to raise money? Ask children or their parents to make a donation so they can wear their own clothes to school. Similarly, with games days, children can bring their own toys for a small donation. Something as little as 50p per child can soon stack up.

 

6.   Party on!

Another fun school tradition is the end-of-term party. Parties are the ideal time to raise funds, whether it’s Christmas, Easter or even Halloween. Instead of having parties in class, arrange a party after school where donations are given as an entry fee. All it takes is a bit of organising and some decorations, and it’s yet another fundraiser the pupils can get involved with.


7.  Local business buy-in

Local businesses are often keen to support a good cause - it shows they are giving something back to the community and adds another sting to their corporate responsibility bow! Why not develop a small 'proud to support...' banner with your school logo on that local companies can put on their literature, leaflets, mail-outs and websites? Plus, you could put their details on school newsletters and notice boards too. Tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians and domestic building companies would be glad of the local advertising opportunity, and happy to pay three figures for a 6 month package.


Still feeling the squeeze?

We understand that budget constraints leave some schools strap for cash, so we've recently introduced a finance scheme to make playground improvements affordable to as many schools as possible. To avoid the complications of a large outlay of money all at once, we have partnered with an established finance company to offer a bespoke operating lease scheme for school playground developments. Much like the way you might lease a school minibus, you can now have playground work carried out and pay for it (over an agreed period of time) in small, manageable installments. Get in touch to find out more about this risk-free scheme and how it could benefit you.

More Posts

Recognising the impact play has on learning ability.

  • By Jon Alexander
  • 06 Sep, 2016

More schools are attempting to shorten the day by cutting break and lunchtimes, but what implications will this have on children's wellbeing and learning potential?

For me, rushing across the playground at break was the only time my imagination really came alive. It was a moment of freedom, when I could recreate the worlds I had read about in class.

However, a recent BBC report  found that not all schools in England value this free time. In fact, many are sacrificing playtimes and lunch to make the day shorter. This is happening for a variety of reasons; in some schools it’s to reduce local congestion, while others have made the change to bring teaching time in line with Department for Education guidelines. Elsewhere, playtime is being reduced to make more time for lessons.

A report from the Nuffield Foundation found that schools have been cutting breaktime since 2006. Anthony D Pellegrini, professor at the University of Minnesota, also reports that many school authorities are attempting to “maximise instructional time and minimise unstructured play time”.

As Dr David Whitebread of the University of Cambridge acknowledges in his report  The Importance of Play , “‘Play’ is sometimes contrasted with ‘work’ and characterised as a type of activity which is essentially unimportant, trivial and lacking in any serious purpose. As such, it is seen as something that children do because they are immature, and as something they will grow out of as they become adults. However… this view is mistaken. Play in all its rich variety is one of the highest achievements of the human species, alongside language, culture and technology. Indeed, without play, none of these other achievements would be possible”.

In 2012, a review of more than 40 studies  highlighted the relationship between play and creative problem-solving, cooperation and logical thinking. Research by Edward Fisher also found that play can enhance early development by anything from 33% to 67% by increasing adjustment, improving language skills and reducing social and emotional problems. This has positive implications for both educational development and everyday intellectual life.

Play keeps children fit, too. A study by Nicola D Ridgers, at Deakin University in Australia, found that longer playtimes were associated with higher levels of physical activity. And as the number of primary school children leaving school obese increases , cutting playtime could deprive them of a valuable opportunity to get the physical exercise they need. The modern child spends a lot of time indoors – children aged 5- 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise – and for some the only real opportunity to physically exercise is during the school playtime."The main difference from the 1990's is that then TV and magazines were the main ways for connecting kids to the media; now they have different devices from tablets, mobiles, games consoles and they have a much higher screen time," said research executive Matthew Nevard.

Getting together outside of the classroom also enables young people to develop social skills. In fact, playtime may be the only opportunity some children get to interact with other young people in a safe environment. The government’s Play Strategy , published in 2008, defines play as “children and young people following their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons.”

Children establish a sense of self through play which is particularly important at a time when “value” in primary education is increasingly being determined by test scores rather than personal development.

Too often young people choose to lose themselves in the instant gratification of gaming on a screen. But in computer games, as in Sats tests, they are scored on their performance, consolidating the idea of competitive hierarchies. Real-world play provides them with a space in which to entertain themselves using their own resources of mind and body, while nurturing a sense of self-worth.

If we don’t cut playtime, what can we do to reduce the school day? I would argue against the idea of cutting school time at all. Presumably parents have been persuaded in favour of reduced hours as only break and lunchtimes are being cut, with no cost to classroom learning. But we must recognise that play is a learning process in itself. A balance of work and letting off steam is necessary for a healthy educational environment.

Many of the reasons for reducing the school day come down to convenience – less congestion and a quicker journey home, for example. But this is often for the benefit of adults, not the children.

Play needs to be preserved in the school routine, so that children can appreciate it as part of the learning experience. 

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