Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 11, 2008

strategic play

The Government's National Play Strategy has just been launched and can be downloaded from
As part of this investment, all local areas will receive funding. Building on the 63 local areas that are already receiving funding, a further 89 local authorities will receive play capital and revenue funding from April 2009.

Children’s Minister, Delyth Morgan, said: “We know that children need play to develop the skills for a successful future. Through the Play Strategy, we are ensuring that all our new investment is shaped by local consultation, and we are supporting community-led projects, including through new funding to support our key delivery partners in the third sector. In addition to investing in new play areas to meet immediate needs we are also laying the foundations to ensure that play becomes a greater priority across local children’s services and throughout local planning and delivery over the longer term.”

Maggie Atkinson, Director of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “I very much welcome the government's new play strategy. The strategy will help local authorities, their partners and communities to transform public parks, children's play areas and school grounds so that all children have the opportunity to enjoy playing outside with their friends in a safe, stimulating and exciting environment."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This is a blog packed with interesting design ideas - take a look:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

a snug fit

This article is from Scholastic Education News:

A revolutionary new range of play equipment has been opened at a London school by two ex pupils.

Children at Fitzjohns Primary School in Camden met Hattie and Tim Coppard, the designers of Snug, who attended the school in the sixties.
Children in winter coats played in the school playground and Governors, parents and other local schools attended the launch of the Snug kit which is the result of 15 years research and observation into what makes a good playground.

Hattie says: “I was so excited about going back to my old school, it’s where it all started and I have such great memories of the playground. Now I hope Snug can help create fantastic memories for current and future pupils of Fitzjohns.

“Snug is a completely new approach to school playground design, creating a flexible environment for play and learning which changes the psychology of the playground. Children work together to build their own wonderful playscapes and this encourages their cooperation and creativity.”

Head teacher Rob Earrey comments: “From the moment Snug arrived the children were intrigued and literally couldn’t wait to get on it. As soon as the last screw was turned, the bright green mound became home to all sorts of imaginative play.

“The moveable parts are used to great effect and the amount of imaginative play that now happens during the day is staggering – a very tangible result of this is the fall in the number of lunchtime complaints and incidents.

“Snug is creative, imaginative, intriguing, enticing, but most importantly fun. I love it and so do the children.”

Hattie’s playground design company, Snug & Outdoor also launched a new campaign to bring creativity to school playgrounds and are offering five schools a free playground consultation.
Contact Hattie at Snug & Outdoor by visiting

Monday, December 1, 2008

education show 2009

Don't miss our seminar at the next Education Show:

Snug In the Curriculum
. This is how it's billed:

Hattie Coppard

Date/Time: 28 Mar 2009

Seminar Details

Snug is a radical new approach to school playground equipment. It consists of a family of large scale modular play elements for children to create their own dynamic, exciting playscape – where they can have fun, explore & learn. This is a chance to hear the designer of Snug give practical examples of how schools are using Snug as a creative learning resource across the curriculum.

# Seminar Streams Early Years
# Primary
Location: Booking Code C11

because you're worth it

We've just been to Bedgrove School near Aylesbury, a fantastic infant school with a huge reputation for their inspired work on outdoor learning. The school grounds are filled with gardens of touch, sight, smell, butterflies and storyteling. There's a garage, a pharmacy, a library, lots of vegetables - used by the pupils to cook lunches for each other - and above all an atmosphere of energy and committment. Oh, and they have the SNUG kit and love it. Staff were talking about the imagination it unleashed, for instance a young pupil using one of the 'noodles' as a moustache, dumbells, oars and much more within the space of a few minutes.

Snug & Outdoor are proud to be working with Bedgrove on a resources pack on how to use SNUG across the curriculum, exploring narrative and play and much more. We'll keep you in touch with developments. Meanwhile this clip from BBC's 'Outnumbered' is a wonderful example of how children merge media in their make believe. The same character buried a dead mouse in a recent episode inventing a ritual which included the lines, "Dust to dust, for richer for poorer, because you're worth it."

Friday, November 28, 2008

revolution now

A quick post to welcome our beautiful new-look website and celebrate the launch of the snug kit at Fitzjohns, Hattie and Tim's old school. It's also the launch of S&O's campaign for free play.

If you support the work Snug & Outdoor has done to promote creative play, please encourage schools you know to buy the amazing Snug kit. Children love it, however they're not the people who buy it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Public art can be tiny!

These playful miniature street sculptures by Slinkachu caught our eye... thanks to Pixelsumo for bringing them to our attention...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

on holiday in Clifton Park

Snug & Outdoor have been working with LDA Peterborough on designs for a Play Pathfinder in Rotherham. As part of the consultation process for Clifton Park, we went into two schools with writer Chris Meade and worked with pupils on poems - here are the results:

Poem made in a morning by Chris Meade and students at

I walk to the window,
Feel the warm morning air hit my face
Hear the birds as they tweet
See the sun shining down on me,
And think:
I will arise and go to Clifton Park
Take the Playfinder Path

To the watery part where
We splish splash splosh
Spend your dosh
On ice cream chocolate and crisps too
In the minimarket near you

Scoober dive
Do the jive
Under water
Come alive
Swim with dolphins
Swim with me

I walk past the graffiti wall
Only to recognize my best friend’s name
Painted small.

Chilling, chatting, Cliftonparking -
In the Chill Zone, a big round space with comfy seats,
We talk about.. well, what boys talk about:
Football, cars, women

Fresh air is like swimming
But fresh air is nothing like the thrill of rides

Tickly stomach
Feeling the breeze

On a perfect skate park afternoon
You forget everything
Get that tense feeling –
Adrenaline rush
Snap crack

makes me want to do it again

girls make you try harder – your mind goes blank

As we race past Trouble Corner
Where feeling safe
is knowing there is someone you can trust to help.
Keeping it safe for ourselves
We help out, keeping it clean and that.

To feel safe in trouble corner
Not any gangs, drugs or drink
No dirty toilets stink

You keep yourselves to yourselves
You know there’s someone there

Laying back relaxing
many people reading
letting all drift away
people’s imaginations
thinking of the day

On Holiday in Clifton Park
by the side of the path
the clouds and birds go past

I lay on the grass and make little faces
Out of the clouds

playing tiggy with my mates

racing round the playpath

the feeling of happiness spreading
flooding through my stream
the slow beating of my heart
the rhythm of music
relaxing me more


Poem made in an afternoon by Chris Meade and students at

I run up the path
to Clifton Park
On my bike reeeet fast

Smell that ice creamy hot doggy chocolaty smell
Of blue white silver invisible fresh fresh air


I will play with my brother, my friends,
On this wavy landform
On the swings


Which tickle my belly with their thrill
Make me sick with excitement


I will go to the beach to build
A car of sand, a lorry,
Get good and muddy,
Sit in the puddles making water bombs


Go to the science park
Where there’s numbers and everything,


And the haunted park
Where words ECHO ECHO
And ghost snakes HISSSSSSS

At Halloween
When witches and tygers and pirates
Eat melted mud, twig chips, leaf pie


Oh, and coloured carrot
That make you go hyper and
All jumping about.


And an evil bunny underneath the swamp

Let’s start to climb…


Up Clifton Park

Go slowly

Niki and Nikitha scarer
Getting the shakes

The ground gets
Everything smaller
Climbing higher and higher
Feeling scared (not brave Murtaza)
Hold on tight…


And at night build a sand theatre
In Clifton Park,
Watch a crazy show
About a park forest with colourful hair
A gorilla and a lion and a bear
About all you can imagine
About everything you know


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

playground politics

Just found this on YouTube: "Playground Politics". Winner, Best Positive Message's Obama in 30 Seconds Contest by Diane Paragas Brooklyn, NY

free kit!

hattie in conversation with daughter dora

Hattie Coppard will be talking about SNUG & the curriculum at the TES Education Show 2008 at Olympia on 10th October from 11am - 12pm in the workshop space. Snug will be on display on stand C10.

Click HERE for an opportunity to win £11,000 worth of Snug kit on the teaching exhibitions website.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Here are photos of Sutcliffe Play's special SNUG, lorry used to deliver the Snug Kit to schools across the UK.

Now how cool is that!?!

And Hattie is on the road again this week with Robin, Noel and Bernard for another of their Genius Loci sessions, this time in Edinburgh. For details on how to book a place email or telephone 01977 653200.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

shell drawing

Tim spotted this beautiful line of white shells that cuts across the beach at Shingle Street in Suffolk...what dedicated holidaymakers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

snug cosy

Thanks to Jo Klaces for knitting us this beautiful Snug & Outdoor tea cosy.
The pot has never been snugger, our tea breaks never more inspirational!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

summer party

Partygoers, including our administrator, Karee Barclay and daughter Kemi, at the Snug & Outdoor/if:book Summer Bash, plus young guests having fun with bits of Snug kit. Oh, happy day!

kids need risky play

"A major study by Play England, part of the National Children's Bureau, found that half of all children have been stopped from climbing trees, 21 per cent have been banned from playing conkers and 17 per cent have been told they cannot take part in games of tag or chase. Some parents are going to such extreme lengths to protect their children from danger that they have even said no to hide-and-seek."

'Children are not being allowed many of the freedoms that were taken for granted when we were children,' said Adrian Voce, director of Play England. 'They are not enjoying the opportunities to play outside that most people would have thought of as normal when they were growing up."

Thanks to Bob Stein for spotting this article from the Guardian.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Appeal Court judgement changes law on risk in playgrounds

In a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal has made an important judgement which goes some way towards rebalancing the law in the field of health and safety.

It has quashed the conviction of a Head Teacher who was prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act after a tragic accident in which a child fell down some steps in the school playground and subsequently died. In it's ruling, the Court concluded that there was simply no evidence that the child was exposed to risk by the conduct of the school as required by the statute.

The judgement makes clear that from now on, in order to prosecute under the Act, the authorities will need to prove that the injured person was exposed to a real as opposed to a "fanciful or hypothetical" risk to health and safety. Previously the courts had given the term 'risk' it's ordinary meaning of denoting the possibility of danger rather than actual danger.

Mr Porter had run the preparatory school since 1975 which catered for children aged 3-16 years. It was not a purpose-built school, and part of the site was located in a disused quarry. There was a higher and lower playground which were linked by a set of brick steps. The school had a superb safety record and there had never been an accident on the steps.

The accident happened during supervised playtime. Having made his way down the steps, the child (aged 3 3/4 years) jumped from the fourth step from the bottom, lost his footing and fell. He suffered a minor head injury and was taken to hospital where he subsequently died after contracting MRSA.

The Head was prosecuted under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Under this section, he had a duty to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, that children were not exposed to risks to their health or safety by the 'conduct of the school'.

In his judgement Lord Justice Moses gave helpful guidance as to how the courts should approach the question of whether a risk was real or hypothetical. The fact that there had been no previous accident on these steps was relevant. So was the fact that there was nothing wrong with the design or construction of the steps, nor did they create a foreseeable risk of danger. Significantly, there were numerous other places in the playground from which a child might choose to jump. He said that the fact that a young child might slip, trip or choose to jump from one height to a lower level is "part of everyday life". Where risk is part of everyday life, it is less likely that an injured child could be said to have been exposed to it as a result of the conduct of the school.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

rolling and roles

Here's a nice pic Tim took of people rolling down a grass slope at the Thames Barrier Park.

Hattie is a speaker at the forthcoming Places to Play conference which will launch Luton's Playbuilder programme. She will be talking about how we can deliver a truly playable public realm and what role artists can play.

Monday, June 23, 2008

urban wordplay

Sarah Butler is a writer and literature development worker whose consultancy company UrbanWords specialises in projects which use creative writing as a way to explore and question our relationship to place. She interviewed Hattie and Chris about public projects involving text and you can read her full report, A Place for Words at

Here's an extract:

"Ask children what they want in their new playground and they might say, oh, some swings over there in the corner, maybe a slide, and a sandpit. Now get a writer to guide them through the process of creating a group poem that asks them what they think play is; what makes them feel safe; and how their dream playground would make them feel, like the organisation Snug and Outdoor do when they start to design new play spaces for children, and you get a totally different picture. A group of children with physical and learning disabilities in Southampton, working with the poet Chris Meade, told Snug and Outdoor that their dream playground is the place that makes you go ahhhhh setting up a real challenge and opportunity for the designers and architects to respond to. By engaging creatively with space and their emotional responses to space, the children were able to get past the play spaces they already had or had already experienced and re-imagine the possibilities of a new space.

Snug and Outdoor used a similar process in a public art project, Hackney Hotlinks, that explored the relationship people living, working or visiting Mare Street in Hackney had with that place and what their aspirations and hopes might be for a regenerated Mare Street. Using writing workshops, spontaneous conversations and a temporary installation of visual and sound projection, the artists were able to get past the negative and the everyday and start really exploring the relationship between people and place. Hattie Coppard, Director of Snug and Outdoor is adamant about the benefits of creative consultation. It’s about exploring imagination, not gripes, she says. It’s about getting people to express something they haven’t imagined yet."

Sarah is now doing further research, funded by Arts Council England, looking at ways of:
* Effectively consulting with communities – helping to give voice to groups of residents who might find conventional consultation techniques hard to handle
* Helping developers, architects and communities think creatively about the spaces they inhabit/want to create
* Finding ways of expressing Heritage and natural ecologies in the creation of new spaces that have a distinctive sense of place using writing techniques to help communities to appreciate/understand local heritage and using this to help engage with new developments during and after their planning and construction

South Bank graffiti

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Hattie is on the play trail this summer as part of a roadshow organised by Robin of Sutcliffe Play, travelling the nation to talk play.

‘Genius Loci’ seminars will address the current issues which challenge and confront play providers today.

The first seminar will be on 11 June in Dublin, hosted by Sugradh, the IPPA (the Early Childhood Organisation) and Allplay. This will be followed by seminars in Belfast (June 12), Wakefield (July 10) and Cardiff (July 18). Autumn dates in London and Edinburgh are to be confirmed.

Managing Director of Sutcliffe Play, Robin Sutcliffe, said: “In Roman mythology a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place, often depicted as a snake. Now it usually refers to a location’s distinctive atmosphere and is the foundation for one of the principles of landscape architecture – that designs should always be adapted to the context in which they are located.

“This should equally be applied to play spaces and forms the background to this series of seminars.”

Hattie will be the first of the day’s speakers, her theme: “Nature is all very well but…”

Hattie will be followed by Noel Farrer, landscape architect, CABE Enabler and Director of Farrer Huxley Associates – a London practice specialising in the development of meaningful, quality spaces for people to enjoy and play. He will look at public realm space and asks “Who needs standards anyway?”

Bernard Spiegal, Principal of PLAYLINK, will then address the issue of consultation with a talk titled “Consultation – stop it, please, stop it!”

The final talk of the morning will by given by Robin Sutcliffe of Sutcliffe Play. He will state his case with “What’s your problem with fixed play equipment?”

The seminars, which cost £50 (€70 for Dublin) will include lunch and a CPD certificate of attendance.

For details on how to book a place email or telephone 01977 653200.

A Bouncing Bench and Calvinball

The best cartoon strip in the world on organised play - recommended by Bruno Taylor of BigBru designs who also sent us this fantastic picture of his amazing bouncing bench.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Design for Play: Creating Successful Play Spaces

Snug & Outdoor have just received details of this presentation, available now:

A presentation based on the forthcoming publication Design for Play: A guide to creating successful play spaces, by Aileen Shackell, Nicola Butler, Phil Doyle and David Ball, published by Play England and the Department for Children, Families and Schools is now available on the Free Play Network website at:

Online Discussion Forum, 16 - 27 June 2008

There will be an opportunity to put your questions direct to the authors of Design for Play in an online discussion forum on designing for play from 16 - 27 June 2008 on the Free Play Network website,

Speakers and Workshops

The Free Play Network can provide speakers and workshops on the issues raised in Design for Play.

For more information on Design for Play and other Free Play Network services, please contact:

Nicola Butler
Free Play Network
129 Lancaster Road
020 8440 9276

Join the Free Play Network contact lists

We would appreciate your help in disseminating information about the Free Play Network's work. If you care to, please:

* Send this notice to individuals and organisations offering them the opportunity to join the Freeplay Network emailing list. This will help keep them informed about events and developments.
* To subscribe to their email list, go to:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Joke (from year 8 pupil, brum)

Q: Why did the chicken cross the playground?
A: To get to the other slide.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Make every place a playful space

Would you like to swing on a bus stop? Bruno Taylor shows you how.


Yesterday Hattie went to the Nuffield Foundation for a presentation of the research undertaken by Professor Peter Blatchford and Dr Ed Baines into the 'social and educational significance of school break times'. Hattie was an advisor to the study.

The research showed that school break times are being reduced in time and number across the country and particularly at secondary level. One extreme example is the new Academy built in Peterborough (Norman Foster designed) which has no playground at all -
"We are not intending to have any playtime. Pupils won't need to let off steam, because they will not be bored" - Headteacher.
"We have taken away an uncontrollable space to prevent bullying and truancy"
- Project manager.

The research shows that breaktimes are overwhelmingly popular with pupils and that secondary school students in particular want longer lunch times - many are only half an hour long. Staff value break times as a space where pupils can get physical exercise and develop important social skills.

Taking away outdoor space and controlling every aspect of the student's environment flies in the face of other government initiatives such as Every Child Matters, Learning Outside the Classoom, and worries about obesity etc.

To find out more, see: The Social and Educational Significance of School Breaktimes by Peter Blatchford and Ed Baines. Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, London.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Places for Spaces

This week we've been running a Places for Spaces workshop for Solent Architecture Centre. Here are a couple of photos showing councillors, council officers, developers from Brighton, Southampton and Portsmouth experimenting in Cosham High Street with the help of large foam blocks, carpets and parasols. (this equipment has been developed for Hampshire's Big Landscape Project and is available to any secondary school wanting to experiment with their outdoor spaces.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Adult's play

In Manchester a playground for the elderly opens.
(Not one of ours but a nice idea).

In London a woman and a cuddly toy shark are seen asleep on the tube.

this is happening

Hattie Coppard of Snug & Outdoor spoke recently at THIS HAPPENED, a regular series of events on interactive design.

Organiser Chris O'Shea is doing a 6 min talk on tuesday (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) and wrote to tell us that Snug & Outdoor feature in it.

Chris says: it's about the playful things that i like essentially.
this is the event:

Oh and here are lots of links to good blog coverage of Hattie's appearance:

Theres about 10 pages of photos here

these happening people

this is happening too

1968 And All That, 10 May 2008
South Place Ethical Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1

The Child at Play

Ken Worpole

Images of children at play in the streets and on the bomb-sites of post-war Europe created a new sensibility around childhood and notions of a better world to be made. Children's street games anticipated the reclamation of the streets as a domain of liberty well in advance of the events of 1968. Ken Worpole looks at the role that photographers such as Nigel Henderson, Roger Mayne, Bert Hardy, Jimmy Forsythe and song collectors such as the Opies and JTR Ritchie played in shaping a vision of childhood as a realm of liberty and freedom of expression, which set the tone for free politics in the 1960s.

2pm, Library, Free Admission

Ken Worpole is a writer on architecture, landscape and public policy. A new edition of his
study of radical fiction, Dockers & Detectives, has just been re-published
by Five Leaves Publications.

Nicolas Walter (1934 - 2000) was an anarchist, secularist and writer on
social questions. His book, The Anarchist Past and other essays, is
published by Five Leaves Publications.

"1968 and all that" is a day of celebration - one, two, many meetings - and an all day book fair. Full details on

Problem Playground

"Isn't every problem a playground?" That's the punchline for this new car advert which also refers to the current trend for seeking solutions by opening them up to the wisdom of the crowd.

Persil's 'DIRT IS GOOD' was another advertising campaign that said great things about the joys of messy play. Any more examples of play in the media (good or bad) are welcome.

What's to come

Hattie's been reading Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga in preparation for the talks she'll be giving on the Robin Sutcliffe roadshow this summer. Watch this space for time and dates and wise thoughts on why play matters. What's the most inspiring thing you've read about play? Please share it here.

Snug's brilliant designer Michael Cross has an exhibition of his own work opening in Belgium shortly. Meanwhile he and Tim are busy finalising designs for Chimney Park in Dublin's docklands. You heard it here first.

Snug's amazing new administrator Karee is building a database of contacts to help us market the wonderful Snug Kit to schools around the UK and the planet. Please let us know of anyone you think we should be contacting.

We have a SNUG group on Facebook too. It's only small so far - why not join the playground revolution? Click here now.

Snug pics - Remembering the Launch

Strategy strategy

This Guardian article is a useful starting point for looking at the Governement's play strategy.


Snug and Outdoor are launching this blog as a means to keep people in touch with the full range of our activities, and in the hope of building a network of people and agencies interested in ensuring that play provision in the UK inspires experimentation.

We'll be keeping you in touch with our own work and looking out for articles, books and events that might be of interest to others in the field.

Current Government funding for play may provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the 'playscape' of possibilities available to young people.

This blog is guest edited by Chris Meade, writer and co-Director of if:book, an agency looking at the potential of new media for creative reading and writing. He's interested in the link between playground games and the imagination. Chris was previously Director of the Poetry Society and Booktrust.

We're keen to find a pool of people who would like to contribute to this blog.
Please leave comments, suggest links and spread the word about what we're doing.