Bristol to host international child-friendly city conference in November 2019

7 May

Bristol City Hall, venue for the conference.

The European Network for Child Friendly Cities has announced a new international conference, to be hosted by the English city of Bristol in November 2019.

Towards the Child Friendly City: children’s rights in the built environment, a three-day conference, will be held at Bristol City Hall and other locations in the city on 27-29 November.

The event will bring together academics, policymakers and practitioners from the range of sectors that shape public space and infrastructure, with advocates and activists working to promote children’s rights in their neighbourhoods, towns and cities.

The European Network, which curated the biennial Child in the City conferences until 2017, is working with Bristol City Council and a range of other partners to create an event that brings together the best of the international child-friendly city movement, hosted by a city committed to its aims. Specific themes for the conference will be announced soon, together with keynote speakers and a call for papers.

“Children and young people are taking centre stage in the urgent movement for more sustainable living; this conference is a chance for the built environment sectors – public and private – to show how they are responding”. 

Adrian Voce, current President of the European Network for Child Friendly Cities said:

“Children and young people are taking centre stage in the urgent movement for more sustainable living; this conference is a chance for the built environment sectors – public and private – to show how they are responding. It will be the first in our new series of independent events, fully controlled by the advocacy network itself, and aimed at raising the rights of children and young people on the policy agenda for towns and cities everywhere.

“We are really excited to be staging the event in Bristol, the home of some extraordinary child-friendly initiatives and environments. Children and young people are taking centre stage in the urgent movement for more sustainable living; this conference is a chance for the built environment sectors – public and private – to show how they are responding”.

Bristol, home of the modern street play movement. Photo: Playing Out CIC

Chair of the network’s scientific committee, the Swedish academic Dr Maria Nordström said:

“The role of children and young people in the lives of their communities, and how the built environment responds to them, has never been more important. That response should be based on the most current research and good practice, which is what we aim to showcase. We look forward to announcing an engaging programme of speakers, workshops and field-trips over the coming weeks, and to welcoming our worldwide network of colleagues to the beautiful city of Bristol in November“.

Bookings will be open soon. Put the date in your diary and watch this space for further updates, or enter your contact details below.


 

 

 

 

 


The European Network for Child Friendly Cities is an independent advocacy network of practitioners, academics and activists working alongside policymakers and public officials to promote children’s rights in towns and cities.
To receive updates about this conference, and about other network activities, please
enter your contact
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Welsh playwork trainer qualification now offered in England

20 Aug

A collaboration of the Playwork Foundation and Play Wales has resulted in the Award in Delivering Dynamic Playwork Training (ADDaPT) being made available in England. Ali Wood reports.

Are you a playwork trainer or have offered playwork training?  In England, the only playwork qualifications currently available are in the form of apprenticeships, and take-up is small; especially as there is no legal requirement for qualified playwork staff (unlike the rest of the UK). A few training providers are still managing to offer short playwork training courses locally, but gone are the days when playwork training and qualifications were widely available and free.

The Playwork Foundation has, therefore, for some time been liaising with Play Wales and with Agored Cymru – a Welsh awarding organisation who now offers various playwork qualifications that have been designed by Play Wales and are delivered across Wales, to see if the Welsh playwork qualifications can be made available in England.  In order to ensure that only occupationally competent trainers deliver playwork qualifications that are inspiring and participative, Play Wales has also developed a short qualification for playwork trainers – the Award in Delivering Dynamic Playwork Training (ADDaPT) – which they have to undertake if they wish to deliver any playwork qualifications.

As a result of our deliberations, we are really pleased to announce it is now going to be possible for Welsh playwork qualifications to be delivered in England!  An ADDapT course has therefore been arranged for English playwork trainers in order that they may be able to offer and deliver any or all of the other playwork qualifications available in Wales.  To be accepted onto the ADDaPT course, trainers must already hold a teaching qualification suitable for working in Further Education and be able to show they are occupationally competent in playwork.  The ADaPT course is three days in length and provides learners with an opportunity to explore interactive and playful techniques to use when delivering playwork training and qualifications.  Participants must also complete an assessment workbook so that they can become an accepted Agored playwork trainer.

This is a great opportunity for English playwork trainers who could then offer short level 2 playwork qualifications that have not been possible in England until now.  The first ADDaPT course has been arranged to take place at Gloucester University on Saturdays 2nd November, 11th November, and 7th December.  The course includes content on:

  • Understanding the importance of meeting a range of learning needs and preferences
  • Understanding a range of playful and participative methods for teaching playwork
  • Designing a programme of learning for playwork
  • Reflecting on own practice

We can also tell you that the ADDaPT itself is an exceptional training course that really inspires and excites playwork trainers and is a professional development opportunity in itself.

Is this for you? There will be a cost of approximately £250 per participant (this could be a little more or a bit less depending on numbers attending) which covers the costs of the ADDaPT trainer, the resources and internal quality assurance.

Ali Wood

Ali Wood is a playwork trainer, researcher, and author. She is a trustee of the Playwork Foundation.


If you are interested in the ADDaPT training, please contact Ali Wood on aliwood@blueyonder.co.uk as soon as possible for further information and/or to reserve a place!

Book now for Bristol conference to receive early-bird delegate rate!

26 Jul

With only five days to go to get your hands on an early-bird ticket for Towards the Child Friendly City, I want to share five reasons for joining me and hundreds of other colleagues who are passionate about children’s rights in the built environment at this exciting international conference.

  1. Be inspired by a wide range of expert speakers, presenters, and panelists on different aspects of the conference themes. Speakers so far confirmed include Dinah Bornat, Tim Gill, Wendy Russell, Sudeshna Chatterjee, Jeff Risom and Alice Ferguson. Full details can be found here
  2. Explore and discuss the latest research, policy initiatives and practice innovations from the range of sectors impacting on children in the urban environment.
  3. Make the most of the all-important networking opportunities of the conference dinner and reception, each included in the delegate ticket.
  4. Experience the wonderful city of Bristol, the home of some extraordinary child-friendly initiatives and environments
  5. Spend three wonderful days with like-minded people discovering and discussing how we can make the world’s cities the best places to live for our youngest citizens.

There are also 5 days left to respond to the call for papers for parallel workshop presentations.

Submit a paper here

Book your early bird tickets here

Hoping to see you in Bristol!

Adrian Voce
President, European Network for Child Friendly Cities

Call for papers for Towards the Child friendly City, international conference, Bristol 2019

18 Jun

Towards the Child Friendly City
Children’s rights in the built environment

27-29 November, 2019
Bristol City Hall,
Bristol, UK


Delegates are invited to submit proposals for presentations, workshops or poster displays addressing the overall theme of the conference, children’s rights in the built environment.

In addition, submissions should address one of the following specific themes:

  1. Planning, housing, and the neighbourhood environment
  2. Activism and children’s voices
  3. The needs and rights of refugee and other migrant children
  4. Children’s mobility, travel, and transport

Submitted papers might address some of the suggested questions, or explore other issues relevant to the theme, supported in each case by relevant evidence.

Read the full Call for Papers here

Register for the conference here

 

Researching the influences on playwork

31 May

A research question: what influences playwork?

Playwork is an emerging profession based on an approach to working with children that privileges their play, the process of playing, and the provision of optimum environments for playing, above other considerations.

It is, in comparison to mainstream pedagogy certainly, a radical approach, with profoundly different perspectives and tenets to those found in the dominant discourses of child policy and children’s services.

But what are those perspectives and tenets? What is their evidence base? Do they amount to a cohesive praxis? Is there a recognisable and consistent playwork narrative? If so, how does it inform, and how is it informed by, other children’s rights narratives? Most pertinently, given the precarious situation of much of the playwork sector, after 8 years of austerity, does this narrative have resonance with policymakers and their electorates, or should the playwork field look to its future outside of public policy as such?

To help address some of these questions, I am researching the academic and other influences on playwork for a Masters dissertation. If you are in any way within the playwork field and would like to contribute, please complete a short survey here

Thank you!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dinah Bornat and Tim Gill to speak at Bristol conference

29 May

Playful Planet has announced the first confirmed speakers for its new conference.

Dinah Bornat is founder and co-director of ZCD Architects in East London, which is passionate about socially inclusive architecture and urban design. As well as being a design champion for the Mayor of London, Dinah has produced cutting-edge research on child-friendly cities, urban design, and participatory practice. Her most recent report, Neighbourhood design, working with children towards a child-friendly city (2019), is a must-read.

Tim Gill is the independent writer and consultant, whose book No Fear: Growing up in a risk-averse society was described by the New York Times as ‘a handbook for the movement for freer, riskier play’. Tim has recently been researching child-friendly urban planning in Canada and Europe as a fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

More speakers, a call for papers and further information will be announced here.

Early bird bookings are open now!

The conference is for all those engaged in research, policy and practice within the built environment sectors, and for practitioners and advocates working with children and young people to champion their rights as citizens and stakeholders in the public realm.

We hope to see you in Bristol!

Segregated play space is an abuse of children’s rights

28 Mar

‘She seems genuinely impressed when she hears about the freedom and control that children have here, and especially at the sense of community and social connection they exhibit: that this is their place, of which they are immensely proud. Before she moves on, The Princess Royal turns to me and says that these children, from the ‘deprived’ social housing estates in the looming shadow of Waterloo Station, seem to be enjoying the kind of childhood that many supposedly better-off children would relish’.

From Policy for Play, responding to children’s forgotten right
Adrian Voce (Policy Press, 2015)

Writing in the Guardian this week, Harriet Grant reports on what can only be described as a form of social apartheid, in the design of a small housing estate in London. The article relates how, in a new mixed development on the site of the old Lilian Baylis School in SE1, North Lambeth, children living in social housing are excluded from the supposedly ‘communal’ play areas, where access is exclusive to those from the privately-owned units.

The article has caused a media furore, with everyone from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to the Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, decrying what architect Dinah Bornat, an expert on child-friendly housing, has called a shameful abuse of the planning process. Victoria Derbyshire’s daytime TV programme featured mums from each part of the estate, united in wanting all their children to be able to play together equally.

As of lunchtime today, the BBC was reporting that Henley Housing, the developer, has said it ‘has no objection to residents in the social housing estate accessing all the play areas’; it was ‘leading the way’ to find a ‘workable solution’. This was later confirmed by Grant in a follow-up to her Guardian story. The BBC reported that Warwick Estates, who manage the private part of the estate, however, are making no comment.

If they each think it’s wrong, who is responsible?

It is striking from Grant’s original piece how a variety of key players (no pun intended) – the designer, the developer, the council, the Mayor and the government – seem to agree (in the glare of media scrutiny anyway) that this segregation of children’s play space by home-ownership status is wrong. And yet there it is. If they each think it’s wrong, who is responsible? Dinah Bornat says she is still trying to get to the bottom of it. There has even been talk of a possible legal challenge by some housing law specialists and children’s rights advocacy groups.

My correspondence, going back to June last year, from one of the parents at Baylis Old School, reveals that the segregation of the play area is in fact only the latest instalment in a running battle at this site, between residents who understood from the marketing that they were moving into a genuinely child-friendly development, and the estate managers, for whom children’s play of any stripe seems to have been largely conceived as a nuisance to be policed.

Whether or not a ‘workable solution’ can be found for the Baylis Old School development (now it is in the media spotlight), the wider questions are: how common is this, and how can it be prevented? How can children’s right to play together in the common spaces of their immediate neighbourhoods – a feature of childhood as ancient as society itself, and believed by scientists to be a key to our evolution as a species – be better protected? Is this not a failure of public policy, wherein children’s right to play receives scant recognition, and no support, in defiance of various UN reports criticising the government for its dereliction?

I want to suggest four distinct policy measures that would make such an occurrence ­– and the wider disregard for children’s rights in public space –much less likely in the future.

1.Reform national planning policy

As the retreat of children from public space became a growing cause of concern through the 90s and 2000s, so the need for a greater role for planning policy to provide guidance on children’s play space became more and more accepted, with major planning documents such as the first London Plan and the government’s National Planning Policy Guidance 17 on Recreational Space, each highlighting the need for planners and developers to include children’s play within the overall concept and masterplan for any residential development.

At the time of the change of government in 2010, Play England had been commissioned to produce specific planning guidance that was to have been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It never saw the light of day and, as everyone now knows, the entire suite of national planning policy documents was soon torn up and replaced by one slim volume. It seems clear that The National Planning Policy Framework is only fit for purpose if that purpose is to allow the concept and design of the public realm to be led by developers. Brought in at a time of perceived crisis for the economy, it is now surely time for a review.

2. Reinstate children’s play as a matter of government policy

Would Lambeth council have allowed the developer at the Baylis Old School site to alter the plans and create a segregated play area if children’s play had been higher on their political radar? Perhaps, but, it would have been less likely. When there was a Secretary of State for Children, with a serious national play policy, including a 10-year strategy and a £390m funding programme (including £155m of lottery money), local authorities were required to have a current local play strategy and play partnership, based squarely on principles and understandings about children’s right to play. Children’s play in England since 2010 has all but disappeared from the policy agenda other than as a tool for early learning and will continue to be neglected by cash-strapped local authorities until there is again some national leadership on the issue.

3. Adopt the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK Law

It has been both heartening and a bit depressing to see the parents from both sides of this unwanted divide citing children’s right to play equally, as per the UNCRC, in their campaign to end this terrible practice. Heartening, because we are often told there is not much appetite for children’s rights among the British public; the outpouring of sympathy for these children, and the stance of their parents suggests otherwise. Depressing because because the UK, (or, more particularly, the UK government, and therefore England) is one of the more reluctant signatories to the convention. The UK is one of the very few developed-world governments not to have adopted the convention into national legislation, ranked a lowly 187th by the Kids Rights Index which monitors the degree of integration of children’s rights into national policy and legislation. This is why finding a viable legal challenge to this shameful decision may be harder than it ought to be.

4. Designate London and other conurbations Child Friendly Cities

The UN’s Habitat conferences of the 90s highlighted the particular threats to the wellbeing of children and young people by increasing urbanisation, population growth and poor long-term planning by municipal government. UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative is designed to ensure that local authorities, regardless of national government policy, fully adopt and implement the UNCRC within all relevant policies and processes. Very few British councils have signed up for the UNICEF initiative – many citing austerity and the cost of the programme – but some, like Bristol, have nevertheless declared their commitment to being a child friendly city and are developing plans and strategies accordingly. A child-friendly city is not just a city where child-friendly design principles are more widely adopted, but one where, as a cornerstone of the children’s rights ethos, these principles are applied equally to all children. 15 years after City Hall hosted the second international child-friendly city conference, Sadiq Khan should formally commit the capital to becoming a recognised Child Friendly City. His current London Plan revision is the perfect opportunity.


As a playworker in the 1980s, I had the privilege of working at an adventure playground in the same part of London as the Baylis Old School development. Like all such places (now sadly diminishing in number), it had its own unique character and culture, reflecting that of the local children who used it. One abiding memory is of how proud they were, not just of the playground (which they helped to build), but of their ‘manor’: the social housing estates in the shadow of Waterloo Station. Applying for grants for our project from the various funding programmes for deprived inner-city areas was frequently met with their scorn. “We’re not deprived; this ain’t a deprived area. Flaming cheek!’ would be one of the more printable reactions. As my story of the visit by our patron Princess Anne relates, there was support for this view from some unlikely sources.

Whatever else was going on in their lives, in one very important regard these children were indeed far from deprived. The adventure playground, and the wider public spaces surrounding it, were theirs to explore from an early age. With no gardens of their own, children from as young as 4-5 would be outside on a daily basis, in groups of siblings and friends – playing, making friends, getting up to mischief, growing up. The adventure playground was their place, but in those (pre-childcare registration) days of open-access, ‘drop-in-drop-out’ attendance, the wider public space of their estates was also their domain.

These kids, like so many who grew up before the outdoor world had become a no-go area for them, had the richest of play lives: meaning they grew up learning the physical and social competence, self-confidence and resourcefulness that only comes from having time and space to play, away from adult direction, structures and rules; immersing themselves, daily, in their own culture and society; making decisions and taking risks for themselves. In so doing they also developed the ‘place attachment’ so important to identity and citizenship.

Like the parents at Baylis Old School today, the adults in the lives of those children in the North Lambeth of the 1980s – indeed society as a whole, even if by a kind of benign neglect – understood the importance of their right to play, and that this right was for every child, regardless of where they live.

Adrian Voce
Image: Marc Rusines

Adrian Voce is the current President of the European Network for Child Friendly Cities. He is a trustee of the Playwork Foundation and an associate board member of Playing Out. His book, Policy for Play was published in 2015.

This article was first published by the Playwork Foundation

It was originally entitled: THE RIGHT TO PLAY IS FOR EVERY CHILD, REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY LIVE.

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