Britain’s most expensive state school is being built without a playground because those running it believe that pupils should be treated like company employees and do not need unstructured play time.
The authorities at the £46.4m Thomas Deacon city academy in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, due to open this autumn, also believe that the absence of a playground will avoid the risk of “uncontrollable” numbers of children running around in breaks at the 2,200-pupil school.
“We are not intending to have any play time,” said Alan McMurdo, the head teacher. “Pupils won’t need to let off steam because they will not be bored.”
The standard view expressed last week by Prof Alan Smithers, of the University of Buckingham, is that schools have been turned into exam factories at the expense of cultivating the inquisitive mind. But the more substantial problem stretches back to the educational reforms of the 1980s, and particularly Kenneth Baker's "core" curriculum,which introduced a major bias in favour of the sciences at the expense of the humanities.
The upshot now is that pupils spend a massively disproportionate amount of time learning (or supposedly so) about saturated fats and Ohm's law but nothing of the great achievements of Western civilisation. Their glorious island history is an optional subject and the creative arts are marginalised to the point of non-existence....
This might seem a far cry from the concerns of the family doctor, but the enforced tedium of the classroom must be responsible, at least in part, for the rising incidence of adolescent psychological and behavioural problems. The solution is simple:science should cease to be compulsory, thus freeing up time for pupils to learn about the real world.