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Space to Play symposium – call for papers

1 Dec

The Foundling Museum in London has issued a call for papers for its forthcoming symposium, Space to Play, to be held at the Museum on 20 March 2017.  The symposium is  organised in collaboration with children’s play author, consultant and campaigner, Adrian Voce OBE and is running in conjunction with the Museum’s Spring exhibition Child’s Play, which features the photographic work of artist Mark Neville.

The exhibition and symposium aim to raise awareness and generate debate around the complex nature of children’s play, and to advocate for improved provision for this universal right.

The deadline for proposals is 6 January 2017.

The call papers can be downloaded here

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Artist Mark Neville explores childhood play in collaboration with The Foundling Museum

12 Oct

By Tom Seymour (reblogged from bjp-online.com)

mark-neville-the-jungle-book-rehearsals-sewickley-academy-2012-courtesy-mark-neville

Main image: Mark Neville, ‘The Jungle Book Rehearsals, Sewickley Academy’, 2012. All images © Mark Neville, courtesy The Foundling Museum

As identified by the UN in the 2013 General Comment on Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a child has a universal human right to play. A new exhibition of photographs, as well as a symposium and photobook, by photographer Mark Neville, aims to generate debate around the complex nature of child’s play, and to advocate for improved provision for this universal right. At a time when up to 13 million children have been internally displaced as a result of armed conflict, photographer Mark Neville presents a series of images of children at play in diverse environments around the world.

Immersing himself in communities from Port Glasgow to North London, and in the war zones of Afghanistan and Ukraine, the series is a celebration of the thing that all children, regardless of their environment do – play.

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Mark Neville, ‘Boy with Hoop in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya’, 2016

The exhibition includes new photographs of internally displaced children in Ukraine; residents of Kakuma, Kenya’s second largest refugee camp, and depictions of children at play in London adventure playgrounds.

Through his photographs Neville captures children’s spontaneous urge to play and their determination to do so in the most unfavourable environments. His images reveal how, through play, children claim a place of power, safety and freedom.

Presenting the images on display along with an overview of the groundbreaking work in the field of child’s play, a book will seek to raise awareness of this universal right, and also focus attention on attitudes towards play in the UK and how the conditions for children can be improved.

mark-neville-child-jacket-slaughtered-goat-sweets-painted-nails-xmas-day-helmand-2010-courtesy-mark-neville

Mark Neville, ‘Child, Jacket, Slaughtered Goat, Sweets, Painted Nails, Xmas Day, Helmand’, 2010

Adrian Voce – playworker, writer and former director of the campaigning body Play England – gives an overview of the national and international work in the field of child’s play, alongside a review of cultural representations of children at play and historical attitudes towards childhood, as seen through the prism of the Foundling Hospital, by curator Nicola Freeman. Copies of the book will be disseminated free to key policy makers and government departments, experts in the field, and to each of the UK’s 433 local councils, in order to directly impact upon government policy thinking and strategy.

A symposium on 20 March will explore the issue of spaces for play, looking at the real and imagined barriers to play in our cities, and focusing in particular on the privatisation of space.

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Mark Neville, ‘Arts and Crafts at Somerford Grove Adventure Playground’, 2011, courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery

In the context of the Museum, the idea of spontaneous play is set against the institutional play evidenced at the Foundling Hospital through archive photographs and film footage. Founded in 1739, the history of the Hospital mirrors the growing recognition of the distinctive needs of children, and the role of play in their lives – from the proliferation of children’s toys and books in the 18th century and campaigns for playgrounds throughout the 19th century, to the closing of the Bloomsbury estate in the early 20th century, now within a fully developed area of London, to give the children better access to fresh air and nature.

Mark Neville said: ‘The right of the child to play a barely discussed, yet fundamental human right.

“We aim to use the Museum as a space for debate and an instrument to improve the rights of vulnerable children.

“By addressing the issues through three symbiotic strategies – an exhibition at the Museum, a hardback photobook with a targeted dissemination, and a symposium – we believe we can really make an impact on this forgotten right.”

Caro Howell, Director of the Foundling Museum, said: “Play is creative, disruptive and a universal human drive. Mark Neville’s powerful images demonstrate its essential role in enabling a child to make sense of the world and to shape their place in it, no matter how challenging the environment.”

Child’s Play is on show from 3 February – 30 April 2017 at The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ.

More information is available here.

UN slams UK Government for lack of policy, planning and investment in play

10 Jun

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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is highly critical of the UK Government’s recent record on children’s play, in a new report published this week.

The advance (unedited) report of the CRC’s concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on children’s rights, says that the committee is ‘concerned about the withdrawal of a play policy in England, and the under-funding of play…’ across the UK.

The report contains praise for the Welsh government’s introduction of a statutory play sufficiency duty, saying that the committee ‘welcomes the initiative of Wales to adopt play policy and integrate children’s right to play in legislation.

The CRC report notes that there are ‘insufficient places and facilities for play and leisure for children … as well as public space for adolescents to socialize’ and calls on both the UK Government and the devolved administrations to do much more to adopt the measures set out in its general comment No 17 (2013) on Article 31 of the UNCRC, to: –

‘(a) Strengthen its efforts to guarantee the right of the child to rest and leisure and to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, including by adopting and implementing play and leisure policies with sufficient and sustainable resources;

(b) Provide children safe, accessible, inclusive and smoking-free spaces for play and socialization and public transport to access such spaces;

(c) Fully involve children in planning, designing and monitoring the implementation of play policies and activities relevant to play and leisure, at community, local and national levels’.

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In general, the CRC report criticises the UK government for not taking forward the 2009 UK-wide strategy on children’s rights, Working together, achieving more, which it says should be ‘revised … to cover all areas of the convention and ensure its full implementation’. In England, this plan included a 10-year national play strategy, abandoned by the coalition government in 2010, with the subsequent removal of play policy from ministerial responsibilities.

Adrian Voce

 

‘For playwork, playworkers and play’

29 Feb

New vehicle for playwork nears completion of early development and tells field it will soon be ‘open for business’

Playwork Foundation Logo

The steering group formed to develop plans for a new representative vehicle for playwork has announced that it has agreed a name and a legal structure for the new body, and is applying to the Charity Commission to register The Playwork Foundation as a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

The proposed objects of the new body, which will have to be approved by the Charity Commission before it can operate as a charity, are:

‘To advance and promote education, for the public benefit, in children’s play and playwork, in particular but not exclusively by: providing information; raising awareness; facilitating discourse; carrying out research; and building capacity’ within the field of playwork.

The new playwork foundation is almost ready to launch. Photo: Meriden Adventure Playground

The new playwork foundation is almost ready to launch. Photo: Meriden Adventure Playground

Notwithstanding these specific objectives – written within the constraint of the form of words required for charity registration – the steering group has made it clear that it expects the new body’s trustees to be guided by its founding aims and principles (developed through a series of open meetings and mailings over 2013-15 after a summit in Sheffield to discuss the future of playwork) and the needs and wishes of its members.

A survey of the playwork field in 2014-15 found that more than 94 per cent of those responding welcomed the idea of a new vehicle for playwork, and said that representing playworkers, raising the profile of playwork and campaigning for playwork services should be its top priorities.

In an email to prospective members, the steering group said it expected the foundation’s activities – in its early stages, when it is not funded – to be “modest”, but that it will, nevertheless, “be open for business” once registration is complete. It is developing a new website and a regular newsletter; and it intends to “ engage fully in the national discussions and debates that are most relevant to our field –offering a platform for the playwork community to do the same”.

The steering group will be at this year’s national Playwork Conference in Eastbourne to discuss its plans, and wants to encourage the playwork community to get involved and make use of the new vehicle.

The Playwork Foundation Steering Group is:

Simon Bazley
Karen Benjamin
Jeff Hill
Barbara McIlwrath
Simon Rix
Adrian Voce
Debbie Willett
Ali Wood

To be on a mailing list for further information about the Playwork Foundation please email adrianvoce@me.com

All party group calls for play to be at the heart of ‘whole child’ health strategy

13 Oct
A Parliamentary report on children’s play, published today, calls for play to be at the centre of a ‘whole child’ approach to health and wellbeing.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, co-chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin and Jim Fitzpatrick MP, today launches its long-awaited report on children’s play.

Announcing the report, the group says that ‘whilst there is broad consensus about the importance of physical activity in the battle against obesity, play (policy) has lost political momentum in recent years and the report calls for a fresh approach’.

In a statement released alongside the report today, Baroness Benjamin says that the group’s proposals on play ‘are integral to a “whole child” strategy for health and wellbeing and should not be regarded as an “add on”. Of course encouraging children to participate in sport is important, but in practice, not all children are “sporty”. Play benefits children of all ages in many different settings and should be at the heart of government initiatives to promote their health and wellbeing, overseen by a Cabinet Minister for Children with the power of cross-departmental audit’.

The group added that the report emphasises ‘play as an essential part of the learning process both inside and outside the classroom and home’ and that it also looks at ‘the role of the planning process in making streets and outdoor space playable for children’.

The report calls on ‘the play industry, advertising, the media and national and local government to recognise the contribution that play can make to children’s lives’.

“(promoting) play as part of a whole child strategy should be a key priority for policy-makers at all levels”.

– Helen Clark, lead author of ‘Play’, a report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood

The report’s lead author, former MP, Helen Clark said that it was time for a re-evaluation of play (policy) including new guidance for parents and training for health and education professionals. She also stressed the need for play not to be regarded as an expendable part of childhood:

‘The All Party Group sees play as central to a child’s learning and healthy development. Research has shown that integrating time for play into the school day is essential to develop creativity, promote emotional intelligence and improve academic achievement … There is a worrying trend towards cutting down on break times at school and parents being reluctant to let their children stray away from the garden. It’s time to see play in all its infinite variety as an essential component of child health of mind and body – and also key to combating the scourge of obesity. (Promoting) play as part of a whole child strategy should be a key priority for policy-makers at all levels.’

The full report ‘Play’ by the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood can be downloaded here

 

   

Playwork steering group calls for halt in standards review

9 Oct
New playwork body steering group asks sector skills council to rethink its position on Playwork Principles.

The steering group for the initiative to develop a new vehicle for playwork has written to SkillsActive urging the sector skills council to pause the current review of the national occupational standards to address widespread concerns in the field, including that the cornerstone Playwork Principles are to be dropped or replaced.

A statement by the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group, has warned that ‘the revised national occupational standards should not be informed by any statement other than the Playwork Principles. To do otherwise would represent a breach of trust between SkillsActive and the playwork profession’.

The steering group wants a fuller debate to engage the playwork community; and to ensure employers, awarding bodies and the government agencies they are answering to, respond to its deep concerns.

Many practitioners are concerned that National Occupational Standards are missing the point of playwork.

Practitioners are concerned that National Occupational Standards are missing the point of playwork. Photo: A.Voce

These have been further highlighted in a recent article by Shelley Newstead, the managing editor of the Journal of Playwork Practice. In a detailed and scholarly critique of the review, Newstead decries the failure of the NOS to reflect the essence of playwork practice and warns that playwork, as being developed within this framework, is in danger of ‘turning into another form of the institutionalisation of children’.

While acknowledging, in its letter to SkillsActive, that the sector skills council has ‘worked closely with an expert working group made up of playworkers in order to ensure the new NOS is as representative of and faithful to playwork as possible’, the new vehicle steering group asserts that the abandonment of the Playwork Principles in full, as a cohesive statement, is unacceptable. It argues ‘that good playwork practice must fully inform this review process rather than have to follow it. The cornerstone statements of good practice surely cannot be changed without the consensus of the practitioner community’.

SkillsActive has assured the group that its ‘concern will be included in the (NOS) consultation report’.

The letter to Skillsactive from the steering group for a new vehicle for playwork can be read here.

Playwork group challenges Skillsactive standards’ review

7 Oct
National Occupational Standards Review ‘a breach of trust’, alleges scrutiny group
Photo: M. Conway

Will the current standards review turn playwork practice on its head?           Photo: M. Conway

The Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group (PPSG), convened and hosted by the national body, Play Wales, is alleging a ‘breach of trust between SkillsActive and the playwork profession’ if the sector skills council goes ahead with its proposed revision of the National Occupational Standards for Playwork.

In a statement on the Play Wales website, the group calls for the new ‘Values, Behaviours and Skills’ statements proposed for the new standards to be abandoned, as they contradict, in places, the established Play Work Principles, which, says the group, ‘describe what is unique about playwork… have been universally adopted and … are referenced in job descriptions, induction programmes and organisational policies and procedures’

Play Wales is urging anyone with an interest, and who shares the concerns raised by the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group, to respond to SkillsActive’s consultation by Thursday 8 October 2015.

The Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group statement can be read here

More information about the Skillsactive consultation can be read here

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