BPCN urges children to “have fun, be active and put the play back into playtime” through ‘Let’s Play’ primary school initiative

Birmingham PlayCare Network is working with local schools in Birmingham to promote the positive effects of its ‘Let’s Play’ programme in a bid to encourage children in Birmingham to “explore limits, venture into new experiences and develop their capacities” during school playtimes.

The programme

As part of the programme, BPCN provides a large selection of innovative recycled materials for playtimes from The Scrapstore Birmingham, these are carefully selected for schools based on observations of the children’s play, the time of year and the playground environment. The resources are restocked three times per year to fit in with school term times.

The second strand of the project includes providing a thorough mentoring and training package including four training sessions to lunchtime supervisors and teaching assistants developing their confidence, skills and abilities to facilitate play opportunities using the equipment.

The organisation also includes five playground-mentoring sessions for pastoral and support staff at each school. Josh Mitchell, Project Worker at Birmingham PlayCare Network and Manager of The Scrapstore Birmingham said:

“Providing a vast range of recycled materials and combining them with the training and mentoring from our team of experts really does equip the students with the resources they need for stimulating play experiences, but also provides staff with the skills needed to facilitate the programme.

“‘Lets Play’ really helps children take their classroom learning experiences into imaginative play outdoors in an environmentally friendly way. It’s all about providing and encouraging creative, outdoor play opportunities and getting hands on with materials like plastics, large reels, huge tubes, pipes, large boxes, old tires, tarpaulin and much more.”

Playing with loose parts

The importance of playing with loose parts on the creativity of the children within the sessions help staff to recognise the importance of play and encourages a variety of play opportunities for children and their learning. Emma Payne, Business Development Manager said:

“Using loose parts can help to support staff in their work, and ensure that each school meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage and Ofsted.

“The role of the worker is crucial of course, but workers need resources as well as skills. The ‘Lets Play’ programme can support this.”

The initiative has however already seen success throughout Birmingham, with one of the more recent partnerships being with Catholic Primary School Our Lady of Lourdes in Yardley Wood. Mike Doyle, Deputy Head spoke about the yearlong support received from BPCN:

“Our Lady of Lourdes children and staff have directly benefited from our ongoing partnership with Birmingham PlayCare Network. The children in our Class Councils highlighted dinnertime play opportunities as an area they wished to develop.

“Following our initial conversations we were convinced that the staff and philosophy of BPCN would link most suitably with our own values and ethos. The programme of detailed training for our dinner supervisory staff developed their understanding of non-specific, open-ended play with resources whilst also having hands on sessions examining the resources themselves.

“The training improved dinner staff confidence levels and the open relationship with the BPCN team ensured that areas of concern regarding the use of equipment were encouraged and addressed.”

Encouraging stimulating play experiences for children

Although training members of staff is of extremely high priority within the programme, ultimately the main focus is on encouraging and enhancing stimulating play experiences for the children. Mr. Doyle added:

“The children have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play with the new resources, creating their own play scenarios for imaginative play, a key aspect of a child’s development.

“The training and resources has also developed the relationships between our children and the dinner supervisory staff, strengthening our adult to child interaction. A further key benefit of our partnership with BPCN has been a noted increase in the play participation levels of our children. This approach has ensured that all children have the opportunity to play in either structured or unstructured play, thereby providing something for everyone and the opportunity for learning, fun and friendship at this key time of a child’s day.”

To book a session please contact Birmingham PlayCare Network on 0121 236 2917.

11 Feb 2016

Vodafone marks Safer Internet Day by launching #BeStrong Anti-Bullying App

Global telecommunications company Vodafone has launched an ‘Anti-Bullying Emoji Keyboard App’ in support of Safer Internet Day, which took place on 9 February 2016.

The app is the latest development in the company’s #BeStrong campaign launched in late 2015 including a series of other anti-bullying initiatives. A spokesperson from Vodafone said:

“We’re always looking for ways to help young people be confidently connected in the digital world and we’re proud to support Safer Internet Day (9 February 2016) once again this year.

“We hope our emoji keyboard app will help young people all over the world to stand up to cyberbullies and #BeStrong online.”

Cyberbullying research (By Vodafone)

The scale and impact of cyberbullying on young people must not be underestimated. A new global survey by Vodafone and YouGov of 5,000 teenagers across 11 countries reveals that around one in five teenagers have been cyberbullied and more than half say they fear cyberbullying more than face-to-face bullying. 43% of teens think cyberbullying is a bigger problem than drug abuse and 41% commented that cyberbullying has made them feel depressed or helpless.

Many young people find it hard to talk about cyberbullying with their parents or guardians and aren’t sure how to support friends who are affected by it. 43% said they would find it hard to support a friend who had been bullied on social media as they ‘could not find the right words’.

In response to the survey results, Vodafone created a suite of #BeStrong ‘support emojis’ to help young people convey compassion and support to friends who are being bullied online.

The idea

The idea for a ‘support emoji’ was first brought to Vodafone by anti-bullying ambassador Monica Lewinsky, who has been a consultant on the initiative, working alongside semioticians, anti-bullying organisations including The Diana Award and ENABLE and Berkeley University Professor Dacher Keltner, the psychologist who advised on the creation of the characters for Pixar film Inside Out. The final emojis were chosen by the teens surveyed.

Vodafone’s #BeStrong Emoji Keyboard App was made available from February 9 2016 for free download on the iTunes App Store and is coming soon on Google Play.

For each view, like and direct share of Vodafone’s #BeStrong emoji messages and supporting videos through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube until 20 February 2016, the Vodafone Foundation will donate £1 up to a maximum of £100,000 to selected anti-bullying charities, including The Diana Award.

This article was sourced directly from the Vodafone website, at: http://www.vodafone.com/content/parents/expert-views/be_strong_emojis.html

07 Feb 2016

National Council for Voluntary Youth Services calls for ‘National Safeguarding Day’

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services recently put a call out for all children and youth organisations to make 29 February a ‘National Safeguarding Day’.

The campaign

This campaign has been coined ‘The Stop Look Listen Campaign’ and encourages organisations to stop what they are doing, look at their safeguarding practices, listen to young people and take action.

This national initiative aims to inspire and encourage children and youth organisations to show commitment to improving their safeguarding policies and standards.

Sam Marks, Chair of the National Safeguarding Forum said:

“It has been a great year for NCVYS in developing our safeguarding network and I am looking forward to another year where youth organisations come together and support each other in regards to the responsibilities and practical approaches to safeguarding.

“The Stop Look Listen Campaign is a great way for us to consolidate this, by putting some time aside and really thinking about simple and effective ways that we can reaffirm our commitments to safeguarding.”

Listening to children

The campaign is as much about organisations reflecting and assessing the effectiveness of the service that they provide for children, as it is about encouraging workers to listen to what these children have to say. Sam added:

“By sharing this with others, we can remind ourselves that we are not alone, while not forgetting that young people are active participants in the work that we do. So take some time not only to stop and look at what you and your organisation is doing, but also listen to what young people say and how they think you can make the organisation safer for them.”

The final weekday of February was chosen to focus on safeguarding as it means that every four years there’s an opportunity to take this extra day in the calendar to take a “step forward” with safeguarding practice.

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services was established in 1936 and now boasts over 175 national, regional and local networks working with and for young people.

To find out more, search NCVYS National Safeguarding.

Article sourced from the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services website: http://www.ncvys.org.uk/stop-look-and-listen-national-safeguarding-day

05 Feb 2016

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