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Sovereign is sponsoring a new pilot scheme that has launched in the hope it will help boost inclusivity and give children the skills needed to develop friendships in the playground.

Schools throughout the UK could benefit from the programme, which involves the introduction of a structured plan of lunchtime sessions that will support children in the development of physical and social skills. The project aims to achieve social inclusion for all pupils and has been developed by not-for-profit support organisation, Chuckle Productions. It is funded by UK play equipment specialist, Sovereign Play Equipment.

Delivered weekly, the lunchtime sessions have been carefully planned to influence a positive impact on inclusion by supporting children who are identified as requiring additional help in developing the skills required to make and sustain positive, supportive friendships, while encouraging all pupils to understand that everyone is different and to treat those differences in a kind, respectful manner.

Sara Christie, Paediatric Physiotherapist at Chuckle Productions, explains: “Lunchtimes can be difficult for children as they try to master the skills of negotiating the rules of play, keeping up with the latest trend or craze and understanding the intricacies of friendships. Unhappy lunchtime experiences may have an effect on a child’s ability to concentrate and learn during the afternoon lessons.”

Chuckle Productions is piloting the project in collaboration with Cooper Perry Primary School in Stafford, where it is focussing on supporting a small group of pupils who have been identified as those who may benefit from developing their social, emotional and/or physical skills. Over the course of two terms, children involved in the pilot will take part in a mixture of team, small group and paired games and activities, where they will gain a wide-range of skills. Delivered by a multi-disciplinary team, activities will promote turn-taking, sharing and listening within busy social situations, problem solving, creativity, imaginative play and the development of soft skills, such as confidence and self-esteem.

“After securing funding from Sovereign, the pilot has become a reality. This support means that after months of careful research, we are able to trial and determine whether a structured lunchtime provision can have a positive impact on children’s social skills and inclusion. We passionately believe that this programme can make a difference and if it proves successful, it could become a valuable provision for schools throughout the country. If so, we hope to roll-out the scheme to many other schools during subsequent academic years.” Sara concludes.

The Chuckle Team and some of their crew members who are young people that help in Chuckle’s other workshops.