Have No Fear – Tim Gill is here!
22nd February 2017
My upcoming seminar on risk at Childcare Expo has prompted me to think about changes in the ten years or so since my book No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society (now out of print, but available for free as a pdf) came out.
It’s a mixed picture. On the plus side, the past decade has seen a massive growth in interest in outdoor learning. For example, Forest School programmes are proving a big success with children – and parents. The best truly embrace the idea of giving children the freedom to learn through their own efforts, and trusting children to make their own judgements about what they can do.
The regulatory climate is also more supportive. Scotland’s Care Inspectorate explicitly supports providers “taking a positive approach to risk in order to achieve the best outcomes for children.” Many Ofsted inspectors (though sadly not all) share this opinion. Crucially, the Health and Safety Executive – the ultimate UK safety regulator – supports risk benefit assessment (RBA). All of which is good news for anyone worried about what might happen if – despite doing everything reasonable – something goes wrong.
Less positively, children’s development and health are still not where we would like them to be. Child obesity is as high as ever. And concerns are growing about children’s mental health and well-being, and their ability to cope in an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world.
Surely it is obvious that a balanced approach to risk needs to be at the heart of any provider’s response to these symptoms of 21st-century childhood. The time is right to move on from sterile water-cooler conversations about the ‘health and safety culture’. We need to focus on removing the bubble-wrap and helping providers take practical steps to give children the freedom to learn from their own efforts and their own mistakes. This is precisely what my seminar will aim to do. I hope you can join me.
Tickets for Tim’s seminar are only £15 when booked in advance and £21 at the show. You can book your seats via your Visitor Hub.