Culture or Vulture?

“We made some structures etc at Redacted school in Somewhere, it was one of B&D’s early jobs, and the first in a school.  It was given as a case study in the National Play Strategy.  The project was well executed in the sense that the B&D’s methodology of  including children in the design and construction was well attended to, but it never became a playwork setting or environment.  This was because the project was not properly integrated into the school’s culture and only a few people at the school understood it, the rest were afraid of it.  Those who were afraid were mainly the lunchtime supervisors, who had the duty of supervising the stuff in use.  This is something that Playpods have addressed well, and are doing much better at bringing playwork into schools than that project did.  At Redacted , a play lead was recruited as an afterthought and she had a hell of a time because she was the only person providing a playwork approach in the school.  She became the focus of the children’s demands and, because the rest of the staff were suppressing play, she became the thing to play with and not always in a good way.  This is an example of failing to roll out playwork as a methodology, and the setting repressing playwork because of that.  I’d also add that, having praised Playpods for doing it better, there have been many Playpods which have been lost on a change of headteacher, mainly those schools which have changed head teacher because of conversion to academies.  There is a clear conflict of methodology between Playwork and Academies which I don’t think can be easily overcome.”

Because a certain type of person is attracted to the headship of an academy. And because the ethos of a school is taken to be the whim of the head.

There is a failure to understand that the ethos, or culture of an institution or an organisation arises independently of the senior-most manager. Culture is an emergent phenomenon.

Smart new heads would seek to go with the flow of the existing culture, nudging gently rather than stamping out.

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