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Practical new tool leads the way to adventurous playtime

Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

A new practical tool has been launched by The Play Safety Forum to combat the ‘cotton wool culture’ that constricts children’s play.

The idea is supported by the UK Government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and promotes the idea of exploration and adventure during children’s play.

The ‘Risk-Benefit Assessment Form’ (RBA) document is a simple tool to help support and encourage child care and play providers to offer activities with elements of risk.

Chair of The Play Safety Forum, Robin Sutcliffe said: “Children need and choose exciting places to play, which inevitably means managing situations that are inherently risky. The RBA form will help providers assess how this can be reconciled with a natural desire for children’s safety.”

The document has been designed to consider both the benefits and risks of challenging play for children. The Risk-Benefit Assessment Form will be most useful to designers, and managers responsible for creating child play spaces.

The Risk-Benefit Assessment Form was written by Tim Gill, Bernard Spiegal and Professor David Ball and is available to download as a blank form, and as a completed sample form to act as an example for care providers.

The chair of HSE, Judith Hackitt, said: “Play - and particularly play outdoors - teaches young people how to deal with risk. Without this awareness and learning they are ill equipped to deal with adult life. Outdoor play and learning is an important part of our children's education.”

Managing risk

The RBA form is devised to encourage a sensible attitude to allowing risk in children’s play. The form was implemented as a result of the ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation guide’, funded by the Government, initially published in 2008 and again in 2013 by Play England.

Ms Hackitt added: “HSE endorses the proportionate advice in the RBA Form. We should all make sure that needless health and safety excuses do not get in the way of activities. Of course take sensible and reasonable precautions, but let young people play.”

The Play Safety Forum (PSF) acts as a self-regulating organisation and works to develop and research the most effective practices for play and is supported by Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales and PlayBoard Northern Ireland.

The RBA Form is available to view at:


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