Playtime rule scrap goes global

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2014

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An Auckland principal who bravely ditched the playground rulebook has been overwhelmed by the positive international response to his story.

The phone has been buzzing with calls and interview requests from around the world for Swanson Primary School principal Bruce McLachlan.

"It's been a busy week, I didn't expect it. It's the reaction against the cotton-woolling of kids, helicopter parenting and nanny states."

The Sunday Star-Times last week reported on the huge success the university experiment had on children's behaviour - a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism - after the school let children do what they liked.

Rather than misbehaving, the children were burning all their energy climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush.

The story was shared more than 90,000 times on Facebook and the principal has been interviewed by 14 international media organisations. Another 30 principals have also contacted McLachlan.

"What's really surprised me is there has been no disagreement. There isn't a naysayer among them."

The school decided to let children test themselves in the playground, whether that be falling off a scooter or being hit by a ball, in a bid to teach them about risk taking.

It was part of an active play study completed at the end of last year by AUT and Otago University but Swanson Primary took the experiment a step further by abandoning the rules completely.

Researchers hope to release their research findings later this year.

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- Sunday Star Times

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