I have just discovered that secondspawn has access to less outdoor space than a free range chicken. And despite being of slightly less than average stature his is considerably bigger than any form of poultry. (Unless an ostrich counts as poultry, but even if it is I am going to ignore it for the purposes of my argument.)
I always knew that the school – huge, built in a different era – had a seriously inadequate outdoor space. Now it transpires that not only is there not a single blade of grass but also there is a ratio of a mere 1m² of bald featureless tarmac per pupil. The playground is so small that the school can’t have playtime together so the classes operate what is called “timetabled play” where different years use the space at different times.
Contrast this with the UK Government standards for free range poultry:
In addition, the birds have had during at least half their lifetime continuous daytime access to open-air runs, comprising an area mainly covered by vegetation, of not less than:
* 1m² per chicken or guinea fowl (in the case of guinea fowls, open-air runs may be replaced by a perchery having a floor space of at least that of the house and a height of at least 2m, with perches of at least 10 cm length available per bird in total (house and perchery)).
* 2m² per duck
* 4m² per turkey or goose
Apparently the school playground provides less than half the area of the current government guidelines on minimum outdoor space for children, although I can’t find those guidelines to link to.
I know all this because I’ve been helping a dynamic (and gorgeous) friend finesse our children’s school’s entry in a dream playground competition.
It’s a huge school, it’s an inner-city school, it’s a poor school and a very high proportion of the pupils is made up of refugees living in temporary accommodation.
Winning the competition wouldn’t make the playground bigger but it could make it far, far more stimulating and better-used. I really think the children deserve to win.
I also really think it is the job of the government to ensure that the schools it provides conform to its own minimum standards rather than relying on the charity of “lady bountiful” banks. But that’s another story.