Risk Benefits at Talking Tree Hill!

Right parents of outdoor awesomepreneurs and Talking Tree Hillers here’s how we do our Health & Safety.

Buckle up its a big one…


We police check all our staff.

I am a registered teacher trained in early childhood & primary and have taught at University level.

We only employ teachers that:

1. Love children

2. Want to pass on a legacy of outrageously good learning

3. Are kind, and respectful of humans, animals and the planet

4. Know how to laugh and create a life and world to be proud off.

Not every teacher is registered in our establishement as we are not a mainstream education system. It’s also not necessary if you have found the dream team and thats what were creating. Our teachers know their schnizz and very open to leaning more…we are all life long learners with a passion for change and beauty. I keep my registration going as it’s important to me and I’m fortunate to also work at Piritahi Childcare. The kaiako, environment and approach to education aligns with my values and I feel proud to be part of their team…we also laugh lots.

Risk Based Learning and Assessment

We believe Tim Gill is a legend in pioneering and reframing how we play on playgrounds and outside. We think Forest, Farm and Bush Schools are the bees knees and learning your own boundaries paramount.

So we use Tim’s Risk based assessment guidelines when choosing the activities, experiences and awesomeness for your children. We think this statement is pretty cool…http://www.playengland.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/managing-risk-play-safety-forum.pdf

I met Tim when he was keynote speaking at the Natural Phenomena Conference in Whangarei last year.  He was speaking about the work he has done in England and I was sold…nice dude, AMAZING playgrounds he has been involved in creating and something that makes sense to me. Benefits of play first – Risks that work with these.

As an outdoor educational facility the health and safety of children is paramount. BUT we want it to seem invisible to the childrens learning. We must have a playground and system that meets the obligations of playground saftey and work based legislation…but we abhor fear based learning and children not learning by doing and finding their own boundaries.

To do this felt impossible when you have 18acres of land dedicated to children’s education and there is farmland, forest and bush schools, animals and water to contend with. Enter Work Assist and Ecoporatal…we hired consultants to create an online health and safety system for us. It works on risk benefits for children and teachers whilst meeting lawful requirements and obligations.  They have been amazing at rewriting risk assessment documents by including Tim Gills procedures and creating our approach to health and safety here. This is very much work in progress as we are adding experiences, activities and challenges all the time so its important for us to have experts advising us on what we can do and keep it up to date and relevant. I will add the completed manual and Risk Benefits assesssment when they are all completed in the next 2 weeks to this post.

So there’s a few things…

There is no high viz here its a last measure on the health and safety food chain. We think about the language we use with child eg we replace “be careful” with “mind your hands and mind your feet”. We advise children to climb a tree as far as you know you can go, then climb down safely from it. Work assist spent 4 hours in the rain last year walking around Talking Tree hill advising me on what they could do to help, they were awesome. It means we come from our authentic stance on what children can learn outside. It’s important for us that parents know that we have set up a system that’s professional BUT to have a disclaimer stating children will come home with scratches and bruises its part of the process of learning…but its not a free for all, its all just past of the adventure. We want to get children thinking about their own risk assessments of situations and as Salmon 2010 said “when thinking is part of their routine, children become alert to situations that call for thinking”.


So we think healthy and safety for your children is also about the food they put into their bodies and how this helps their minds too! We have concluded that the food we will serve is sugar free, mostly organic, vegan, and always with a gluten free option. It is my challenge to make sure that its all tasty. So far so good ! Anyone have any recipes to share to make this happen ? please email me or pop it up on our facebook page: facebook/talktreehill. I’m a ‘throw it together’ kind of baker so recipes with that logistic fill me with joy 🙂


My lovely Waiheke friends I know it will sound crazy as it seems natural to ask a friend for someone’s phone number or email but if that friend has a child on our enrolment database myself and any of the teachers here cant pass on any info. HeyIt’s a confidentiality thing…on a small island this may seem OTT but that’s the deal. “OTT yeah you know me that’s our confidentiality policy”. Please try and rap/MC that line…I did it was fun. That’s right I’m bringing out the speshness in health & safety.

The Planet.

No plastic !!!  This is our health and safety guidelines for the planet. The next two years are spent deplasticing ourselves and all the lovelies that come here. That’s right Talking Tree Hill and the Simmons-Swann Birds will be zero waste, bye bye plastic first. Man it’s going to take a while though…its not easy or cheap to do this process but if we wanna talk the talk, we got to walk the walk. For the health and safety of our Moana, Papatuanuku and Ranginui…bring no plastics. So help us please I’m looking at you Steph, Gus and Jason Simmons…visitors beware were going to get brutal. That’s just an immediate family aside for now.

TTHill parents give yourself a big old pat on the back that every time your child comes out here your helping the planet. Perhaps create that day a plastic free day for your whanau…the world will salute your consciousness!

Our nearby goodness campaign “one child, one tree” is the last planet Health& Safety offering from Talking Tree Hill but that deserves a seperate blog post. So see you back here in 2 weeks. Loving the blogging!