Can I just talk to you about snow angels and snowmen?

It’s a serious topic from my perspective. I’ve seen things published recently saying that the new found ways to access education could mean no more ‘snow days’. That’s not what YouTeachMe would advocate and it’s definitely not where I stand as a teaching professional. Yes, we provide video teaching. Yes, you can send it home to learners. Yes, they can sit in a warm room and learn with the support of their parent or carer. But can we all stop and ponder for a moment on whether tech and teaching should replace joy and fun?

One Friday lunchtime, quite a few years ago, we got ‘the call’. As I was interrogated it started snowing, heavily. It got so bad that the lead inspector called me on Saturday morning to ask if I wanted to postpone the Monday start on Health and Safety grounds.  I’d spent 3 hours writing risk assessments for the snow play activities my teaching team had just planned, so I said no! The interesting thing is that I was a new head, we were a school in real difficulty and the extra time we could have bought ourselves would have been very useful. But no, as a team we decided it was more important for our infant children to be wrapped up and outside, learning (playing) in the snow.

Why? Well it was more than just ‘we don’t get enough of the white stuff over the winter’. It was about quality learning. It was to do with fun, laughter, letting children be children. Allowing them to lead their play and get excited about it.

Some chose to lay in the snow and flap their arms and legs, then jump up with glee to see their angel in the snow. Others rolled the snow to make their snowmen (or women or dogs!); it was a bit of a challenge to have enough props on hand to make smiley faces, proper noses and hats atop misshapen heads. Then there were the snowballs. Children were allowed to make their own and for 30 seconds, pelt members of staff willing to participate (just me!). Let me tell you, half a minute really can feel like a lifetime but it was an experience they’ll never forget.

And Ofsted stood by and witnessed all this. They watched as our children enjoyed the excitement of nature and the freedom of play. And they included it in their report.

So I say yes, of course, academic progress is vital. Yes, learning should be equally supported in school and at home. But let’s not forget that any child will get more out of being in the snow with their friends, school staff (or family if the school boilers pack in) than they will get from being trapped in doors, learning ‘the curriculum’ and looking longingly at the white stuff.

I stand by snow angels, snowmen and snowballs being a must do activity for EVERY child at ANY school.

Paul Rose

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