21 August 2012
So do you like the sound of children laughing and playing outside or does it set your teeth on edge?
We all have our own personal preferences and we are all different people. For some the thought of living near a space where children regularly run around and laugh and play is a wonderful way of being less lonely perhaps, or maybe you work all day and what happens during the hours of 9 and 5 near your house does not really bother you. For others the thought of the constant chatter of children's voices would actually make life very uncomfortable.
There is a Montessori pre-school in Bournemouth that has just had a request to extend the amount of time that the children spend outdoors turned down by the local authority. Local residents have objected on the grounds that the noise will be untenable.
There is a planning restriction on the site that limits the use of the outdoor space by children to a maximum of 2 hours per day, regardless of the weather, hence the need to request an extension when the pre school took delivery of an outdoor learning classroom funded by a Government initiative.
The pre-school has been open since 1997 and there has been a school on the site for more than 50 years. The plans for the extended use are not for a prolonged play period but are for groups of up to 12 children to experience learning in the natural environment in their new outdoor classroom area.
There is a wealth of research and Government guidance (EYFS, Ofsted etc) that shows us how important it is for children to experience learning and playing outdoors, the positive impact on health and wellbeing is also well documented.
If a child is at pre school for 8 hours in a day - is it ok to lock them up indoors for 6 of those hours?
So who is in the right here?
The residents who do not want their peace shattered or the pre-school who want their children to have the right to be outside?
Whose is the balance of human rights?