A Perth school has done away with free play at recess in favour of more coordinated ‘instructional’ sessions.

The decision has left students at Clarkson Primary School with just 15 minutes of unstructured play per day, ABC reported.

It’s understood that the school swapped out free play at recess for “instructional play” for Years 1-6 at the beginning of the year.

In a letter to parents, principal Tony Shields advised that teachers instead would lead students into the playground for 15-minutes to focus on “learning dispositions and playground rules”.

After 15 minutes of instructional play at recess, students have 15 minutes to eat before taking part in five minutes of mindfulness activities to “promote a sense of calm” before returning to class.

WA’s public primary schools typically allocate 20 minutes for recess and 40-45 minutes for lunch, including time to eat.

While the decision has drawn some criticism, the Education Department say they hadn’t received any complaints.


Parenting expert Maggie Dent said while she did not think 15 minutes of free play a day was nearly enough, instructional play had its place.

She said that more and more children were starting school not knowing how to play and needed to be taught to avoid conflict in the playground.

ABC Perth

Pic credit: Robert Koenig-Luck

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