Fair Play for Engagement and Equity in Schools

Year: 2019

Author: Sahlberg, Pasi

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will be presented during the Gonski Institute for Education symposium: Gonski Institute for Education Research Initiatives: Equity and Equality in Australian Schools

The Fair Play Project that is supported by Lego Education seeks to garner insights into the role that unstructured play can have in promoting the skills and qualities that children need to do well in the classroom. In particular, the focus is on play as a medium for promoting equity in education. This research seeks to build upon existing knowledge by determining exactly to what extent unstructured play promotes the skills and attributes that children need to break the cycle of disadvantage and thrive in the 21st century.

This project addresses one of the prevailing issues regarding educational inequity; children from disadvantaged backgrounds participate less in traditional classrooms; they are less engaged and this disengagement can have a negative impact upon their futures. We predict that for disadvantaged children, exposure to unstructured play will set them upon an upward trajectory – giving them the skills they need to thrive at school alongside their more privileged peers. This research:

- Investigates how an open space and opportunity for play triggers children’s curiosity and creativity.

- Explores how primary school aged children gain the knowledge and skills needed in designing, creating, managing and coordinating their activities in free-play environments;

Determines how the knowledge, skills, behaviours and achievements of children from disadvantaged circumstances, particularly children who have limited access to toys at home, are affected by greater access to unstructured play.