Tag Archives: play

Parliamentary working group to develop play policy proposals for next government

6 May

The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, which, last November, called for a new national play strategy for England, underpinned by legislation, has convened a working group to develop its proposals for new government play policy. The group met at the end of April and will be researching and drafting its recommendations under the following headings (subject to change):

  1. An overview of play in the UK and comparison with other countries
  2. The roles and responsibilities of government in supporting play in England and the devolved UK .
  3. Play in early years settings, primary and secondary schools.
  4. Outdoor and indoor play: barriers and opportunities.
  5. Play training needs of the children’s workforce.
  6. Guidance about play for families.
  7. Play and the planning system.
  8. Risk and safety in play.
  9. Play, diversity and inclusion.
  10. The role of the media, advertising and the play industry in children’s play.
  11. Educational learning through play, before and during the school years; the role of technology in play.
  12. The role of playwork and staffed play provision.
  13. The health benefits of play – mental, emotional and physical; play as therapy; how play contributes to the public health agenda.
  14. The economic and social benefits of play.
  15. A government strategy for play – scope, aims and objectives.

The group aims to complete its initial research and drafting phase by 18th June, and to publish its full report later in the summer. A number of play professionals, including academics, are supporting the work of the group and would like to invite others in the field to contribute.

Short submissions under any of the above headings (please say which), containing specific policy proposals with fully referenced supporting evidence wherever possible, can be sent to adrianvoce@me.com on or before 30 May 2015.

Adrian Voce

Dear politicians, playing children bring communities together – but they need you to protect their space

9 Apr

Over 100 playworkers and play advocates have united to refute the UKIP claim that immigration stops children playing out together, and to highlight the real reasons for the decline in outdoor play.

This is a copy our letter, which is being sent to 3000 election candidates today, calling for government support for community play.

Play advocates are encouraged to adapt it with examples and quotes from families to use in local campaigns*

*Please remove signatories if the letter is altered in any way.
Children, allegedly not playing together because of their different backgrounds,                                                     send a message to UKIP

Children, allegedly not playing together because of their different backgrounds, send a message to UKIP

Dear Candidate,

Following the recent assertion, from Nigel Farage of UKIP, that immigration divides communities to the extent that children can no longer play outside together, we would like to assure you that in our experience of supporting community play over many years, this is not true.

We would, however, like to highlight evidence of the real barriers to outdoor play.

Play is in some ways a delicate thing, largely unnoticed by the adult world. Yet when children are free to play, they thrive. There is plenty of evidence that playing is vital to their development, essential to good mental health and physical activity. It is how children discover their identity and their passions. Most importantly, playing is how they most enjoy being alive.

Children play regardless of their differences, and the friendships they form through play make up the social fabric that strengthens families – and whole communities. Over a number of years there has been a great deal of research into the barriers that children face to their natural desire to play with their friends in the public spaces near their homes.

The number one offender is invariably traffic, followed by parental anxiety about ‘stranger danger’.

Research (by Ipsos MORI, NOP and a range of academic institutions) over a number of years has shown that other reasons for children not playing out as much as they and their parents would like, are anxieties about bullying, too much rubbish, poorly maintained or boring playgrounds and a lack of trusted adult oversight. In recent years, fear of accusations of bad parenting has also been cited as a reason for keeping children inside. Pressure on both children’s and adults’ time – from school and work respectively – is another.

These barriers have become so great that some studies estimate that today’s children have less than 10 per cent of the space for free play, compared to only 30-40 years ago. Strong links have been made between this decline and a range of poor health trends.

None of the evidence that we have looked at suggests that immigration is a significant factor.

On the contrary, children playing outside bring people together and engender strong, cohesive communities. We see children from diverse backgrounds playing together in their local neighbourhoods every day, but to enable and support more children to play outside – the way they have for countless generations all over the world – we need to control traffic, not immigration. Children and their parents need to have confidence in the public spaces where they would play.

They need more road closures, lower speed limits, safe routes to school and play areas, more and better community policing; and funding for playwork and community play projects. In the longer-term, planning decisions and spatial development strategies must consider what children need from the built environment and the wider public realm.

We would like to invite you to meet some of us and to visit the streets, estates and villages where you can see for yourself the power of community play. We would also be more than happy to discuss with you how the new government can support children’s play after the election.

Please pledge today to work with us to improve the spaces where families live; to support community play for the UK’s children – in all their glorious diversity.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Isabelle Allen, Playworker, Sycamore Adventure
Marc Armitage, Independent Playwork Consultant
Roger Barham
Fran Barton

Arthur Battram, PleXity
Simon Bazley
Tracey Beasley, Playwork and Early Years Trainer, CWT – Chamber Training
Joan Beattie, EQ Playwork Training and Consultancy
Lucy Benson, Islington Play Association
Steve Boeje, Play Association Hammersmith and Fulham
Jackie Boldon and the Shiremoor Adventure Playground team
Dani Bowman, Community Development Officer, High Wycombe
Karen Benjamin, Training and Development Officer, Playwork Partnerships
Janine Sally Brady
Amanda Brook
Professor Fraser Brown
Donne Buck, New Ark Adventure Playground
Petra Burgess, senior playworker, Bapp
Phill Burton, Dynamix
Imogen Butler-Cole
Rebecca Coley, Birmingham PlayCare Service
Samuel Butler, St. John Ambulance
Theresa Casey, International Play Association (IPA)
Laura Jane Clifton
Lottie Child, Lecturer, the University of the Arts and Forest School Leader
Sue Coates
Issy Cole-Hamilton
Mick Conway, Playday Founder and member of The Wild Network Council
Rachel Cross, Playworker, Bristol
Pete Darlo, Playful human
Elaine Davies, Chief Executive, About Play
Tiu De Haan
Michele Deans
Siobhan Dillon, College Park Residents Association, NW10
Rich Driffield
Anne Dunn
Vicky Edwards, Crawley Play Service
Cinzia Ferella, International Sales Manager, Sutcliffe Play
John Fitzpatrick
Michael Follett
Marvlon Gardener, Nana Marz Childcare
Tim Gill, Independent Researcher
Alison Goguelin
Sarah Goldsmith
Anita Grant, Islington Play Association
Paul Greatorex, Play consultant, Leisure and the Environment
Claire Griffiths, Play Department Manager of AVOW, Play on Plas Madoc
Andy Grout, Playworker
Sylwyn Guilbaud, Playworker
John Hale, Somerstown Adventure Playground, Portsmouth
Bridget Handscomb, Hackney Play Association
Paula Harris
Chris Harwood, Sandwell Adventure Play Association
Donna Hawkins, Playworker, Brighton
Jane Hembrow
Thomas Henchman
Claire Higham
Andy Hinchcliffe, Pop-Up Adventure Play
Paul Hocker, Development Director, London Play
Claire House, Smash Club Manager
Caitlin Howells, Community Artist and Playworker, Norfolk
Abi Ps Hunter
Nick Jackson
Kevin Johnson
Michelle Jones
Haki Kapasi, Inspire
Tony Kendle, The Eden Project
Yanina Koszalinski, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground
Jacky Kilvington
Dr. Pete King
Glynnis Knight-Lee
Leonie Labistour, University of Gloucestershire
Suzanna Law, Pop-Up Adventure Play
Amanda Lawler, Playworker, Funzone Ltd.
Morgan Leichter-Saxby, Pop-Up Adventure Play
Pip Levett, Director of Play, Play Gloucestershire
Pamela Lewis
Christophe Lutard
Alex Madewell
Marianne Mannello, Playworker
Melian Mansfield, Chair, London Play
Chris Martin, Playwork Convenor, Unite the union
Nathan MacGillivray, Play Development Worker
Lisa Matthew, Play Mosaic Ltd.
Dr. Mel McCree
Keeks Mcgarry, Shiremoor Adventure Playground
Ken McKeating, Playwork Manager
Patrick Meleady, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground
Meynell, iP-D!P
Sue Morris, Community Stuff
Chris Morton
Rachel Murray, Playwork Consultant and Forest School Practitioner
Jade Newton-Gardener, IMAP
Eddie Nuttall, Felix Road Adventure Playground
Emma Payne, Birmingham PlayCare Network
Tanya Petherick, Director, Class Of Their Own
Carolyn Port, Chair of Governors, Winterslow Primary School and Founder of Winterslow Youth Zone
Dave Poulton, Playworker
David Spencer Ramsey
Lynda Ray, About Play, Sheffield
Charlie Reaves
Dan Reesjones
Lee-Anne Robinson-Godby
Rachel Rose Reid
Simon Rix, Meriden Adventure Playground Association
Shelly Rossiter, Manager, YMCA, Dorset
Michael Rowan, Parks Consultant, Aucuparia Consultancy
Ruth Russell
Dr. Wendy Russell, University of Gloucestershire
Sue Saunders
Joel Seath, Playworker
Sasha Sencier Persaud-Jagdhar
Lily Slingo, School Play Coordinator, Bristol
Tania Slingo, Parent
Colin Simmons, Trustee, London Play
Panash Shah, Cambridge Kids Club
Hilary Smith, University of Gloucestershire
Kate Smith, Tiverton Adventure Playground
Chris Snell
Ben Tawil
Rachel Temple, Ceda
Sheila Tequila
Caroline Thom
Janine Timoko
Gareth Venn
Michelle Virdi
Adrian Voce OBE
Jessie Voce
Barry Walden, Vice Chair, London Play
Paul Waller, Brighton and Hove Play Service
Laura Walsh, Central YMCA Club
Philip Waters, The Eden Project
Laura Watkins, Woodland Toddlers, Busy Rascals and Pitsmoor Adventure Playground
Margaret Westwood, International Play Association (IPA), Scotland
Raymond Arnold Willis, Play Manager
Niki Willows, Playworker and Trainer, Rounded & Grounded
Ali Wood, Independent Playwork Trainer and Researcher
Will Wpa, Senior Playworker @wpaplay Play Association
Charlie Rebekah Caplan Wilson
Charlie Wilson, Supervisor, Class of Their Own, Brighton
Penny Wilson, Playworker
Tracey Woodward
Mike Wragg, Chair, Eccleshill Adventure Playground
Sandra Wright, Leader, Wild Foxes Forest School
Keyo Yendii

Playwork field calls on parties to adopt policy measures for play

25 Mar

Proposals from the National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne show that the playwork sector has lost none of its ambition, or its fight

A special session at the National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne earlier this month has produced a clear and ambitious play policy agenda ahead of the General Election. Here is the text of a joint statement from the conference convenors and the steering group for a new vehicle for playwork:

“A General Comment from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2013[1] said that governments have an obligation under international law to ‘recognise, protect and fulfil’ children’s right to play, through appropriate legislation, planning and budgeting.

A recent research review of the impact of children’s play initiatives found that there is good evidence that they ‘lead to improved health outcomes for children, and are also linked to a range of other developmental benefits’ and that these can be shown to be cost-effective.[2]

Yet, in spite of it being a clear responsibility of government and there being good evidence of its immediate and long-term benefits, public play provision has been one of the main casualties of austerity.[3] A ten-year play strategy for England was abandoned after only two years, and the voices of children and those who support their play have been virtually unheard in the debate about the economy and public services.

UK playworkers now call on political parties to recognise the vital importance of time and space to play in children’s lives and of the vital role of playwork in opening up opportunities otherwise denied to many of them.

We urge all parties, relevant government ministers and other agencies to adopt children’s right to play as a central plank of policy for children and to take urgent steps to protect the country’s unique network of staffed play provision, such as adventure playgrounds, by developing a new national play strategy to include: –

  • A statutory play sufficiency duty for all local councils, as is now the case in Wales.
  • Recognising playwork training and qualifications as essential to extended services, after-school, and holiday play provision.
  • Reforming the regulation of extended services and out-of school provision to make playwork practice an essential part of the inspection criteria.
  • Reinstating central funding for infrastructure, professional workforce development and a new national body for playwork.
  • Directing Public Health England to work with local authorities to develop area-wide strategies for free play.
  • Making play policy a core component of a new Cabinet post for children.
  • Addressing the need for equitable terms and conditions for playworkers.
  • Developing a national programme of ‘playable neighbourhoods’, expanding the numbers of adventure playgrounds, play streets, home zones and play ranger schemes and by supporting playwork and community play development projects.
  • Reforming anti-social behaviour law affecting children’s play so that participation and mediation replace criminalisation.

The playwork sector will continue to develop these proposals in consultation with the field, and is committed to working with government and other agencies to realise such measures in the interests of all the UK’s children, their families and communities”.

Drafted from workshop discussions, feedback sessions and prioritising exercises at the National Playwork Conference, Eastbourne, March 2015, facilitated by Ali Wood and Pete Duncan.

The Eastbourne statement can be downloaded as a pdf here: Playwork policy proposals

Notes

[1] UNCRC (2013) General Comment (GC17) on Article 31 of the CRC.

[2] Gill, T. (2014) The Play Return: a review of the wider impact of play initiatives, London: Children’s Play Policy Forum.

[3] An investigation by Children and Young People Now, reported in January 2014 found that local authority spending on play services over the past three years had been reduced by an average of 39 per cent.

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