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Can Children Play in Irish Schoolyards?

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Can Children Play in Irish Schoolyards?

  • New study finds that limited attention is given to children’s right to play in Irish schoolyards.
  • Teachers report challenges in supporting play, including limited policy and litigation fears.
  • Every day half a million children share schoolyards in over 3000 schools across Ireland.

Researchers are calling for increased attention to the design of schoolyards and provision of diverse spaces for play in primary schools, to address issues of exclusion, bullying and racism in Irish schoolyards.

A study led by University College Cork (UCC) researchers has found that the limited attention given to children’s right to play in school policies and practices contradicts with inclusive school ideals and government commitments to children’s rights.

More than half a million children share schoolyards in over 3000 Irish primary schools for a mandated, supervised breaktime that is more than 10% of each school day.

Over a three-year period, the multi-study research project investigated play in Irish schoolyards as central to the production of intersectional inequities central to exclusion particularly for disabled and minoritised children.

Teachers cited challenges and tensions in creating conditions for play in schoolyards including limited policy and practice guidance, contradictory expectations and litigation fears and the need to negotiate diverse individual and collective interests, prioritising safety and an absence of conflict.

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