It is a strange fact that what children are allowed to do really varies from place to place
.We moved from Surrey 2 years ago to Essex.In Surrey, at least the part we were in, children did not "play out".They did not go to the park independently until secondary school age +.Where we live now, many children "play out" and go straight from school on their bikes to the park, without involving parents.
I have all girls, so perhaps am more protective.My yr 6, now the early eves are lighter, comes home from school alone.(A 20 min journey)However we went and practised the route by passing alleyways and secluded spots.She now has a cheap mobile so that when she walks to her Mon youth group at Church, she can text me to say she is there.
I probably would let her now go to the cinema, as long as she texted me and I knew she was coming out when it was light.She hasn't asked yet though so I wont suggest it!
Older daughter, year 8 does go out ice skating, cinema etc and again I ask her to text on arrival and when she is setting off for home.
I suspect I am a tad on the protective side.However you can always relax as you go along , it is harder to go the other way!
I am not sure still about the general vague "going out with my friends" thing that some teenagers do.I feel a trip should have a specific purpose otherwise they do gravitate to hanging around in groups in town.I am not comfortable with that as it doesn't seem to produce the best behaviour.
Anyway that's just me and i have girls so maybe that's different.