Extract taken from Foreword by Professor Bill Lucas
This book is expansive in its conception of education of the desired outcomes of a child’s school days. It is a serious corrective to a risk-adverse world, carefully explaining why it possible to do potentially dangerous things in a character, values and skill-forming way. It takes learning out of the classroom into the real world where it belongs without compromising the necessary disciplinary progress that students need to make – West Rise is an outstanding school for both Ofsted and for someone with my values. It reconnects children to the natural world when too many of them have lost any link with the seed to seed cycle, with care for creatures and with the awe that landscapes like this can inspire. It is an awesome laboratory for the development of character and capability.
Above all Playing with Fire is, for me, about trust. Trust children to set up and run an art studio. Trust parents that they will let you take risks. Trust teachers to let go. Trust us all that we need help from those who understand animals and wetlands and archaeology if we are to be real lifelong learners. Trust your luck that when the water buffalo get out, the village will understand. Trust that there are great Ofsted inspectors who see through the ordinary. Trust that not all health and safety people are the problem. And trust that, fortified by this book, you can play with fire in your own backyard.