Archive | News Release RSS feed for this section

Academics highlight children’s need for street play during lockdown

20 Apr

There are growing calls this morning for governments and local authorities to urgently look at steps to allow more children to use their local streets for outside play.

A new paper by Prof. Alison Stenning and Dr. Wendy Russell explores the issues around children’s access to space during government restrictions, within the context of the vital importance of play for their wellbeing and resilience.

The paper suggests that rethinking the purpose of residential streets may hold a key to making the lockdown less harmful to children, more bearable for families, and, therefore more sustainable for communities.

Read the full paper here.

Government responds to open letter, inviting play sector to help monitor the impacts of Covid-19

24 Mar

Following last week’s open letter to the government about play and the coronavirus, and the subsequent closure of playgrounds as part of the latest measures, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has responded, saying:

‘(we) recognise and appreciate the importance of play to children’s physical and cognitive development, but given our present circumstances, Government’s response right now must focus on preventing the spread of Covid-19; protecting the most vulnerable in society and offering support to those impacted by social-distancing, including companies and employees’.

The emailed response also asks the play sector to share any relevant information with the ministry on the impacts of the virus, and the authors of the letter have welcomed this invitation to engage.

Adrian Voce

 

Government should issue guidance on children’s play during the coronavirus crisis

20 Mar

This open letter to the UK government – from play practitioners, researchers, advocates, and industry bodies – urges the Chief Medical Officer and Public Health England to consult with the field on producing clear advice that keeps children and communities safe while still allowing them the opportunities for playing outside that could now be more important than ever.

As researchers, children’s play charities, and advocates for children, we fully support the current policy of social distancing to combat the growing coronavirus pandemic. With yesterday’s announcement of school closures, this now includes millions of families facing an indefinite period of home-schooling, with limited or no childcare. There is understandable uncertainty and anxiety about how they will cope. One major issue is, how will children play?

Space and opportunity to play is essential for children’s mental and emotional wellbeing, social connectedness and resilience. Of course, children can continue to play inside; we encourage families who need ideas, to search the internet and other media for resources and suggestions from play practitioners on how best to support indoor play. There are many rich ideas to be found, requiring little or no expense.

Space

But all parents know that children also need space to play outside. Healthy regular exercise is as vital for them as it is for adults. Public Health England (2018) identifies that ‘ensuring all children are as active as possible throughout childhood is important for population health … this activity can include all forms of active play’.

In addition to the physical health benefits, it is important for children’s mental and emotional wellbeing that they can move around, let off steam and express their natural vitality through play. Outdoor play in open space – within the public health parameters – could now be an important part of community resilience, particularly for those without private gardens, or living in high density and high-rise housing.

We note the current government guidance that social distancing can still include ‘going for a walk outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others’, and we welcome the Chief Medical Officer’s recent remark, that it is important that children still exercise, enjoy themselves and play outside in the park.

Social distancing

There remains uncertainty, however, about how to enable this within the social-distancing rules – for example: with younger children; in ball games; and in the use of equipment. We appreciate the challenge of advising the public in the midst of a fast-changing crisis, but we do urge the Government and Public Health England to consider the question of clear guidance; and to consult with play practitioners and academics on this.

We are also happy to work with local authorities and other agencies through this crisis, on any plans to support communities in this important area of public life and healthy childhoods.

Signed by

Adrian Voce OBE, Playful Planet and the European Network for Child Friendly Cities

Tim Gill, independent researcher, writer, and consultant

Alice Ferguson and Ingrid Skeels, Playing Out CIC

Anita Grant, Play England

Dr Wendy Russell, University of Gloucestershire and independent researcher

Professor Alison Stenning, Newcastle University

Ben Tawil and Mike Barclay, Ludicology

Robin Sutcliffe, Children’s Play Policy Forum

Karen Benjamin, The Playwork Foundation

Dinah Bornat, ZCD Architects and Mayor of London Design Advocate

Caroline Boswell, ex-Head of the Mayor of London’s Children and Young People’s Unit

Marion Briggs, Alliance for Childhood

Professor Fraser Brown and Mike Wragg, Leeds Beckett University

Mick Conway, Playfile

Amica Dall, Assemble

Charlotte Derry, Playful Places

Anna Gaffney, A Place in Childhood

Helen Griffiths, Fields in Trust

Mark Hardy and Deborah Holt, Association of Play Industries

Eleanor Image, Play Association Tower Hamlets

Graham Jones and Paul Greatorex, Leisure and the Environment

Professor Peter Kraftl, University of Birmingham

Naomi Lott, University of Nottingham

Anna Mansfield, Publica

Chris Martin, University of Leicester

Dr Mel McCree, Bath Spa University

Jess Milne, Consultant Playworker

Eddie Nuttall, Felix Road Adventure Playground Association

Kay O’Brien, Hackney Play Association

Cath Prisk, Outdoor People and

London National Park City Schools

Julia Sexton, Sheffield Hallam University

Katherine Shaw, Kids

Meynell Walter, Ip-Dip magazine and IPA England

Sally Watson, Newcastle University

Holly Weir, University of Westminster

Tom Williams, Woodland Tribe

Penny Wilson, Play KX

Dr Philip Waters, I Love Nature CIC

Rob Wheway, Children’s Play Advisory Service

Ali Wood, Meriden Adventure Playground Association

Dr Jenny Wood, A Place in Childhood, and Heriot-Watt University

 

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!

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!

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
details here:

European network ends partnership with Child in the City 

1 Mar

The European Network for Child Friendly Cities (ENCFC) has ended its partnership with the Child in the City Foundation, which is now fully owned by its commercial partner, the Promedia Group.

ENCFC has provided the scientific and programme committees behind the successful Child in the City conferences and seminars, hosted over two decades by, among others, London, Zagreb and Florence.

Adrian Voce, the network’s president, said today:

“We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the Child in the City foundation and are proud of the many excellent conferences and seminars we have curated.

“Our board has decided that independence is the best way to safeguard the integrity of our contribution to the child-friendly city agenda. We will therefore now establish our own not-for-profit platform, to be launched soon”.


The European Network for Child Friendly Cities is a not-for-profit association registered in Belgium.

If you would like to receive information about its future conferences, events and activities please leave your name and email address here:

A new beginning for playwork?

20 Nov

The world’s only professor of playwork, Fraser Brown of Leeds Beckett University, welcomed the launch of the new Playwork Foundation at a special event in London last week. Adrian Voce, who also spoke at the event, reports on the launch and its background.

Playwork, the practice growing out of the UK’s adventure playground movement, made significant strides through the 90s and 2000s, towards what might be called professionalisation. Higher education courses, vocational qualifications, national occupational standards and recognition within the regulatory framework for out-of-school provision, saw growing numbers of playworkers employed in a variety of settings. Since 2010, this progress has suffered some serious setbacks. The deregulation of after-school and holiday childcare, the abandonment of a national play strategy for England, and a relentless squeeze on local government budgets, has seen many adventure playgrounds close and playwork courses withdrawn, as job prospects diminish.

A crisis meeting to consider how the field should respond was called in 2013 by the playwork scholar Bob Hughes and his close colleague, the late Professor Perry Else of Sheffield Hallam University. The summit arrived at two main conclusions. Firstly, the ‘grand narrative’ of playwork and what it can do for children needed to be more persuasive and better articulated. Secondly, a fully independent playwork practitioner body needed to be created to develop and amplify the ‘argument for playwork’.

Independent

Some of those at the meeting in Sheffield believed that the second of these imperatives was the primary objective: that playwork needed to construct its own vehicle before the first objective could be achieved. Such a body should be independent; no longer reliant on the waxing and waning allegiances of larger ‘parent’ or ‘umbrella’ organisations, for whom children’s right to play was only an occasional priority.

Four years later, the Playwork Foundation opened for business last week at a special launch event in London, declaring itself to stand ‘for playwork, playworkers and play’. Fraser Brown, now playwork’s only professor, gave the keynote address and elucidated, with illustrative vignettes, what distinguishes playwork from other practises.

playwork actively resists dominant and subordinating narratives and practises with children
– Professor Fraser Brown, Leeds Beckett University

Defining it simply as ‘the process of creating spaces that enable children to play’ Professor Brown described playwork as a unique approach that privileges who children are now, over what they might become. He said it ‘actively resists dominant and subordinating narratives and practises’. He said playwork offers children flexible environments in which to afford them opportunities for the fullest possible range of play types, as evolutionary biology suggests they need; and practises ‘non-judgmental acceptance’ and ‘unconditional positive regard’ for children.

IMG_2214

Elsewhere at the launch event, board members Ali Wood and Karen Benjamin – each experienced playwork trainers, writers and consultants – introduced the new organisation with a review of the foundation’s development since the idea was first mooted in 2013. They said that an extensive consultation with the field had found overwhelming support for a new vehicle for playwork and had established some clear aims and principles.

We need an organisation that is play literate and promotes play literacy
– Penny Wilson, author of The Playwork Primer

Wood and Benjamin said that, although slow because of the lack of resources (the new body has no funding), the development work had been proceeding steadily to this point. The foundation has a charitable constitution, adopted by a board of trustees, and is awaiting charity commission registration. It has a website, a list of potential members and has developed a dialogue with national bodies in each of the four UK nations. The time was ripe, they said, to launch a membership scheme as the next significant milestone

Impassioned

Penny Wilson, the London-based playworker and author of The Playwork Primer greeted the launch of the new body with a lyrical and impassioned entreaty from the field, reflecting the discourse at a recent adventure playground conference in Bristol. Wilson said the field wants ‘an organisation that is tailor made – like playwork is  – a bespoke design with enough strength in its warp and weft to be responsive and resilient, to be able to meet and greet the unpredicted; an organisation that is play literate and promotes play literacy’.

Meynell Walter, who convenes the annual national playwork conference, spoke about the longer-term history of playwork development, and previous incarnations of the national movement. He hoped the new organisation would help to revive the field after the decline of the austerity years.


Adrian Voce comments

There has been a temptation to consider playwork’s decline during the austerity years as significant of a fundamental rejection of it – by policymakers and, by extension, the public at large. This would be a mistake. The depth and breadth of public sector cuts and deregulation in the wake off the financial crisis was a tsunami that took little account of what was in its path. The treasury and education ministers that cut the play budgets at a stroke, discarding a whole series of national contracts, were not targeting our field in particular. They were radically reducing the role of government – and government spending – in general. It wasn’t personal.

Cycles

The decline in playwork opportunities need not be long-term. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, which has held a poll lead over the governing Conservatives since the general election in June, has spoken passionately about children’s right to play. Corbyn represents an Islington constituency that has more adventure playgrounds than any in the country. He knows about playwork and what it offers children, especially in the deprived inner cities.

Economics and politics go in cycles. It was the English play movement’s misfortune that it reached its moment of greatest opportunity in public policy just as the global economy crashed to one its deepest ever troughs. But the consequent period of austerity has been an opportunity to re-group, stronger and hopefully wiser than before, ready to take the case for play and playwork into future campaigns without being dependent on other professional groupings or sectors.

Although modest in scale, many of those attending the launch event in London last week said the new body felt like something they could identify with and belong to. Others said it seemed like a significant moment in playwork’s history. Perhaps: time will tell.

Profound recognition

At a much bigger event last week in the same London venue – the two-day Child in the City international seminar – some of the best moments were when playwork practitioners and researchers conveyed the essence of what they do, and what their research reveals, to the wider audience of children’s rights advocates. There was then an unmistakeable, profound recognition that here was something important, something people have been looking for – an approach to working with children that respects their own agency and engages with them on their own terms. It is no accident that the play movement has its greatest traction within the discourse on children’s rights. Many advocates believe it is urgently needed wherever adults work with children, or create spaces for them.

Whether the Playwork Foundation proves to be a good vehicle for this task or not – and whether the next swing in the political cycle offers more opportunities for it or not – the case for playwork is much too compelling for it to be halted by the vicissitudes of economic ebb and flow. It is the practise of honouring children’s unfettered embrace and re-imagination of the world they both inhabit and create – and of doing our best to provide and protect the space for that ancient, vital process. Which is all any of us can do.

Adrian Voce

Main Photo: Children building a new play structure at Tiverton Adventure Playground in Devon (Adrian Voce).
Inset photo: Ali Wood (l) and Karen Benjamin (r) at the launch on 8 November (Adrian Voce).

Adrian Voce is a board member of the Playwork Foundation, and author of Policy for Play (Policy Press, 2015)


More details of the different presentations, including a full transcript of Penny Wilson’s speech, will be made available soon on the Playwork Foundation website.

With thanks to Goldsmiths University of London, who hosted the Playwork Foundation launch event free of charge.


JOIN THE PLAYWORK FOUNDATION HERE

London conference: Children’s Play in the Urban Environment, 6-7 November

16 Oct

Playground460x276

Adrian Voce will host this Child in the City international seminar at Goldsmiths University of London on 6-7 November 2017.

It has never been harder for children and young people in the modern city to find somewhere to play or meet with their friends, due to the following issues:

  • the seemingly ever-growing dominance of traffic and commerce
  • increasing urban populations
  • economic pressures on public space and
  • austerity policies leading to the closure of many playgrounds and youth clubs

On 6-7 November 2017 the Child in the City International Seminar will focus on these emerging issues by addressing the theme ‘Children’s Play in the Urban Environment’. The seminar will look at the latest research on children’s play and young people’s culture and its relationship to health and wellbeing trends.

Diverse programme and audience

Child in the City International Seminars is a rolling programme of focused events, each bringing together practitioners, children’s professionals, play workers, city planners, landscape architects, geographers and policymakers, along with researchers, academics and advocates, researchers and policymakers from different relevant fields around a specific theme of the child-friendly city agenda.

With the seemingly ever-growing dominance of traffic and commerce, increasing urban populations, economic pressures on public space, and austerity policies leading to the closure of many playgrounds and youth clubs, it has never been harder for children and young people in the modern city to find somewhere to play or meet with their friends.

Latest research

The outside world of the urban landscape is widely considered unsafe for younger children while teenagers themselves are often viewed as a threat to public order. Yet the freedom to enjoy their own play and recreation, to participate with their peers in the cultural and social life of their neighbourhoods, towns and cities is a human right for all children and young people, recognised in international law.

 This second Child in the City international seminar will look at some of the latest research on children’s play and young people’s culture in the modern city and its relationship to health and wellbeing trends.

The seminar will consider policy options and explore good practice examples –through presentations from around the world and field trips to projects in London – on how different cities are addressing this most quintessential of children’s rights: to grow up in a community that recognises and supports their need to play and be with their friends – without adult pressure or agendas, but within shared, intergenerational urban landscapes that allow the whole community to thrive.

For more information click on the image below

citclondonrectangle2

National survey marks 30 years of Playday

12 Jul

IMG_2861Playday will be 30 years old this August and the four national play organisations in the UK that coordinate the event have launched a survey to mark the anniversary. The survey canvasses opinions on how play has changed in the UK over the last thirty years. However, the response, particularly in England, has to date been below expectations.

In a recent circular the Playday group says that ‘although we already have over 1000 responses, the response rate is much lower in England than in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. We are keen to try and boost responses (throughout the UK, but particularly in England) in advance of the 21st July deadline.

The survey invitation from the Playday group appears below.


Complete the Playday survey here

play-day-logo

What do you think about playing today and how have play opportunities changed for children, families and communities through time? We want to hear what you think. Playday, the national day to celebrate play, is 30 years old this year.

The national organisations that promote play in the UK want to find out how play opportunities have changed over these years and need your help. Could you spare some time to complete an online survey?

Please visit  ​to complete the survey here and share this link with your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Help us understand the nature of play in the UK today and how this has changed over the last 30 years.

The Playday survey will close on 21 July 2017.
Playday this year will be on 2 August. More information can be found here
%d bloggers like this: