The FSA was approached by Birnbeck Insurance with a question about loose parts play at Forest School. The question was whether or not ‘loose parts play’ involving man-made materials was a core part of Forest School? The question had arisen because of an increasing number of Forest School providers declaring this as a specific activity within their programmes. Underwriters are concerned about an increased risk associated with introducing ‘man-made’ objects in this way.
The FSA has given the following guidance to Birnbeck Insurance and they have agreed to try to adopt a general approach in line with this advice.
The FSA position, with regards to ‘loose parts play’ using man-made materials, is that ….
deliberate introduction of man-made materials to the Forest School site as a result of child-initiated/led demand is understood to be OK and a normal part of running a Forest School program. This should not be excessive and it should be managed according to the usual risk/benefit approach adopted within Forest School when using tools and materials. However, deliberately bringing into Forest School sites ‘man-made loose parts’ as an ‘activity’ or ‘enrichment’ exercise is not OK because to do so is antithetical to the Forest School ethos. It also poses a different set of risks, such as the risk of a hazard being created over time due to deterioration of materials, that would need to be managed by the Forest School leader.