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Nature Playground

Dardanup Primary School Nature Playground Policy ‘Back to Mud Pies’


In Australia impacts on our modern society have significantly restricted children’s ability to access free, independent play, most significantly outdoor play adventures. Play experiences that many of us took for granted when we were young are now being radically diminished or at risk of disappearing entirely for children today. A lack of understanding of the role of play and ‘play literacies’, also means essential developmental life skills such as resilience, adaptability and creative thinking, all gained through play, are also being affected.

We are seeing the emergence of a new phenomenon of ‘play deficit disorder’ on Australian primary school playgrounds, where children are presenting at school with inadequate play skills to navigate the school playground successfully for themselves.


Each student at Dardanup Primary School learns to develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, practices and attitudes necessary to be engaged, robust 21st century citizens capable of shaping our future.

This includes

  • Purposeful access to environments using natural materials
  • Playground space that is flexible and welcomes open ended opportunities to meet specific needs of students
  • Increased independent self-initiated play
  • Taking learning beyond the classroom environment

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved school performance in mental health issues, bullying and social disconnection.
  • An increase in the ability and frequency of free play and independent mobility for children and young people.
  • Meeting the diverse needs of our school community through social skills, character formation and resilience are formed.
  • Children are guaranteed a certain amount of time daily to play freely outdoor with their friends.
  • Improvement in students’ development and their overall wellbeing and engagement in school and learning.

Awareness amongst school staff that playtimes are in fact legitimate parts of the school day and that schools do better when catering for children’s play needs as part of their overall educational needs.