Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 13:23 UK

Ministers go swinging into action

Ed Balls
Leading by example?

Children's Secretary Ed Balls took to the sky to encourage parents to let their children out to play.

He leapt onto a rope swing at a play park in south London to help publicise progress in the government's Children's Plan.

Not to be left behind, Culture Minister Andy Burnham also went back to his youth and jumped on the swing - to the delight of local school children.

Mr Balls says children wanted to spend more time playing outside.

This was because many parents had grown increasingly worried about their children's safety, he said.

Confidence boost

"It seems children spend less time playing outside than they would like and less than their parents did as children," Mr Balls said.

"Evidence shows around one in three parents will not allow children aged eight to 15 to play outside of their house or garden, and as many as one in four children, aged eight to 10, have never played outside without an adult.

"Parents told us this is because there are not enough safe places to go.

"There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that parents think their children are safer playing inside on a computer than outside."

But this may not always be the case, he said.

'Tweenagers'

The government says giving children the chance to play outside with their friends helps them build confidence and social skills as well as have fun.

It is launching more details of its strategy for play, which forms part of the Children's Plan.

A consultation will look at how 225 million is to be spent on thousands of new and renovated playgrounds over the next three years.

Mr Balls confirmed plans, first announced last year, to provide funding for 3,500 playgrounds.

"We will also be creating 30 new adventure playgrounds for eight to 13 year-olds in disadvantaged areas, supervised by trained staff," he said.

"These allow that 'tweenagers' age group safe places to play where they can have some independence."


SEE ALSO
Play and learning children's plan
11 Dec 07 |  Education
Children's Plan: how it went down
11 Dec 07 |  Education
National strategy on play pledged
11 Dec 07 |  Education

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