Institute of Expert Witnesses

Providing specialist advice and support in accident cases

The Institute of Expert Witnesses offers professional impartial and independent advice and provides qualified expert opinions to support the legal process of resolving cases of accidents and injury.

FREE PLAY should not be a FREE FOR ALL

Lesson plans and activity sessions are often seen to include FREE PLAY time. The intention of the teacher or coach is to give time to the student when they can explore their own rehearsal or experience of their favourite or interesting challenges.

It is clear that FREE PLAY should not be a FREE FOR ALL. There will always remain a duty of care by the teacher or coach to ensure that students work within their limitations and comfortably within the boundaries of the skills taught. 

Safety margins for setting or changing apparatus of any kind must always be with the teacher.

KNOW YOUR STUDENTS before introducing FREE PLAY.

FREE PLAY does not mean FREE TIME for the teacher or coach. FREE PLAY is a time when risk may increase. Staff must ensure that their presence is felt as a restraining influence without being overbearing. 

Staff should be prepared to question students where risk taking is clearly excessive and SHARE the decision making with the student in reassessing the attempt. They should assure a SAFE FREE PLAY.

FREE PLAY can as well as being fun can also place students in a competitive mode when risk taking is more tempting.

FREE PLAY may also place significant peer pressure on fellow students to “have a go”.

All of this makes FREE PLAY immediately inviting but inevitably a risk that the teacher or coach must be prepared to fully manage a difficult act to balance.

IEW experts have a lifetime experience of reviewing or investigating FREE PLAY incidents.

If you have any questions regarding free play or if you need expert witness advice on a free play case, please do not hesitate to contact our Expert Witnesses on 0117 986 2194 or at

An article signed by our IEW President, Trevor Low BA, Dip AD & ATD.

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