The risk from potentially toxic elements in playground soils is of concern to children’s health as a result of the potential for intentional or unintentional consumption. Current approaches, based on total potentially toxic element concentration, may overestimate the risk. This has resulted in the development and use of in vitro gastrointestinal extraction protocols. The concentration of arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) in soils collected from 12 schools in north-east England has been compared with Soil Guideline Values from seven countries as well as reported literature concentrations for playgrounds and recreational parks. It was found that the mean As concentration of 14.1 ± 5.4 mg/kg does not exceed the England residential Soil Guideline Value in any location, while the mean Pb concentration of 298 ± 380 mg/kg is high but not excessive. Both concentrations have been assessed using the maximum potential daily intake from soil that a child could ingest. Based on this protocol Pb does not exceed the tolerable daily intake in any playground location, while As is generally 10 times lower than the oral index dose in the majority of playgrounds. The oral bioaccessibility of As and Pb was investigated. It was concluded that the highest concentrations were determined in the gastric phase with maximum bioaccessibilities of 54 and 46 % for As and Pb, respectively. Here we have demonstrated that minimal risk arises from the investigated playgrounds provided that good personal hygiene is adhered to.